ofcemse, boob may be
00 tnS'for ov^ue books 2o a day plus cost of
n tt( St cards and change of residence must be re-
Kansas City, Mo.
D DDD1 H5SD1SM D
A Collection of Twenty-five Blackouts
* # *
Amateurs may use these numbers without payment of a royalty.
Copyright, 1935, by The Northwestern Press
All Rights Reserved
Made in U. S. A.
2ZQR PwK Avenue,
A "blackout" is a funny little creature with a stinger in
its tail. In other words, a blackout is a very short, pithy
skit that ends as abruptly as it began, the high spot being
in the last one or two lines. It is much shorter than ^ the
ordinary one-act playlet, but longer than the dramatized
The blackout is growing in popularity both on the pro-
fessional and amateur stage, as well as a form of short
entertainment in the parlor. "Used as a filler for between
the acts on the stage, or as an ice-breaker at a house party
it never fails to please if properly presented. Many rules
of play technique are sacrificed in the construction of the
blkqf^; 'ftf > the three-act play and most of the one-acters
thf jr : ''i5otffe form of introduction wherein the audience is
informed of what has taken place previous to the opening
of the play, and to acquaint them with the facts and cir-
cumstances. Then there must be a plot that needs develop-
ing. Next, there must be a climax, which is the highest
point of interest. This is followed by the unraveling of the
tangles, and the solving of certain problems. In the black-
out there is a minimum of introduction and the play ends
at the climax. There is no unraveling or solving. Any-
thing that might have happened after the climax is reached
is left to the imagination of "the audience. The longer play
may be likened to a" photograph., where all the details are
set forth, while the blackout is like an artist's drawing
the more important things are set forth, and the details are
left for the spectator to inject.
A blackout is called a blackout because the stage lights
are extinguished when the act ends instead of lowering a
curtain on the scene. To lower a curtain, which is neces-
sarily a slow-moving means of blotting the scene, on an
act that starts and stops so quickly would ruin the effect.
'J?ke state ot rfphgisdn Darkness. The player or players take
tl^ir piacjpfcf; Cthp* iiglits/ are , switched on, and the play Is
Immediately in progress. Simultaneously with the last word
to be $pgtf$Qft, or the very last bit of business, the lights
are swlfcfiecf off, and are not turned on again until the
players have left the stage, or rearranged themselves for the
subsequent blackout The blackout may be played as a
single feature, or a group of them may be played one after
In the following blackouts It will be noted that the cos-
tuming is made as simple and easy as possible. Very little
scenery is necessary. Most of the acts call for a simple
living room setting. For this reason they may be presented
anywhere, any time. The number of players In the casts
are small and the properties very simple.
When in doubt, try a blackout.
No VISITORS ALLOWED 7
For Three Women
WHAT PRICE ROOMMATE? 10
For Three Men
For Two Men and One Woman
CATS Is CATS 17
For Two Men and One Woman
THE SPEECH OF ACCEPTANCE 21
One Man, One Woman and One Boy
POP GOES THE HEART 25
For One Man and Two Women
BROTHERLY REVENGE 29
For Two Men and One Woman
/THE NEWLYWEDS 33
For Two Men -and One Woman
AUNT EMMA BRINGS DICKY 37
For One Man and Two Women
AND HE NEVER CAME BACK 41
For Two Men- and One Woman
WHO'S A HICK? 45
For Three Men and One Woman
CHILDISH PRATTLE 50
For Two Men and Two Women
THERE ARE BADGES AND BADGES 54
For Two Men and One Woman
THEIR GOLDEN WEDDING ANNIVERSARY 58
For One Man and Two Women
FIFTY DOLLARS WORTH OF DOG 61
One Man, One "Woman and One Boy
A WELCOME REMINDER 65
For One Man and One Woman
LEAVE IT TO MOTHER 68
For One Man and Two Women
A NEAR TRAGEDY .' 71
For Two Men and One Woman
TIT FOR TAT 74
For Two Men
THE PASSING OF BRUNO 76
For Two Men and a Boy
BEING POOR Is No DISGRACE 79
For One Man and Two Women
For One Man and Two Women
HE'S NOT So DUMB 86
One Man, One Woman and a Lad
SOME OF THEM BEGIN YOUNG 89
One Man and Two Boys
JUST ASK FATHER 92
One Man,, One Woman and One Boy
I two high school seniors
THE NURSE at the hospital
The girls are typical high school girls about seventeen or
eighteen years old. The nurse is a pleasant woman of forty-
five. She wears the costume of a graduate nurse.
SCENE: Simple setting to represent the waiting room of a
hospital A small stand and a wicker settee will suffice.
May be staged without furniture.
STAGE TOTALLY DARK
STAGE LIGHTS ON
(INEZ and MARJ are standing near Center., looking
about rather foolishly as if they hardly knew what to do.)
INEZ (Giggles.) Now that we're here, Marj 9 what in the
world are we going to do?
MARJ. Why, Inez, you talk as if you had never been in
a hospital before.
INEZ. I never have been.
MARJ. Neither have I. (They giggle.) What do we do?
Just sit down until somebody comes?
INEZ. Until somebody comes and hauls us off to the
MABJ. I certainly feel foolish standing here.
INEZ, We'd feel just as foolish silling down. I'm just
about ready to run.
MARJ. Fin going to ask somebody,
INEZ. Ask them what? If we can see Vincent?
MARJ. Of course. Who else did we come here to see?
1 hope lie isn't hurt badly.
INKZ. You heard what they said at the game when they
carried him oil the field. He had a broken leg.
MARJ, Oh, but wasn't it wonderful?
INEZ. The broken leg?
MARJ. No, no. The way Vincent carried that ball for
INEZ. If he hadn't had the accident he would have made
another touchdown. He runs like a deer.
MARJ. He is a dear. Well, now that we're here to see
him. Fin not so sure that we should go in.
MARJ. Do you think we should? He might not like it,
INEZ. Oh, he likes me, Marj, I know he does, because
he smiled at me in class Wednesday. And what a smile that
boy has! When he smiled at me 1 was headed straight for
MARJ. Well, come back to earth. We're in a hospital.
Say 5 maybe they won't let us go in where he is.
INEZ. I don't see why not, Marj. A broken leg isn't so
MARJ. Not nearly as serious as a. broken heart, and if
you fall any harder for him that's what you'll have.
INEZ. Oli ? is that so? Well, you've done a lot of talking
about him yourself. I wonder who we're supposed to ask.
MARJ. One of the nurses, ninny.
INEZ. But where are they? I haven't seen a nurse yet.
MARJ. This might be their day off.
INEZ, Nurses are never off, Marj. They work twenty-
four hours a day sometimes more.
MARJ. If we do go in Vincent's room, what will we say?
What excuse will we offer for coming? He doesn't know
us except that we are in his- classes. I'll bet he doesn't even
know our names.
NO VISITORS ALLOWED
INEZ. I don't care. He's just about the handsomest . . .
MARJ, Sh! (Nods to offstage.) Somebody's coming out
of that room there.
INEZ (In a loud whisper.) It's a nurse. (Enter NURSE.
She is about to pass the girls when they stop her.)
INEZ. Are you er are you the head nurse?
NURSE (Stops and smiles pleasantly.) No, I am not.
INEZ (At a loss for words.) Oh! I we we thought
you were the head nurse.
NURSE. I'm a special nurse at present. Years ago I hap-
pened to be head nurse in this hospital Now I am on spe-
NURSE. Was there something or someone . . . ?
MABJ. I'd like that is, we would like to see someone.
INEZ. We'd like to see Vincent er Mr. Layman.
NURSE. I'm sorry, girls, but the doctor left orders that
no one except those of the immediate family should go in
Mr. Layman's room. He is running a temperature.
INEZ. So am I I mean, that's too bad.
MARJ. Why er I'm his sister.
INEZ (Quickly.) So am I. We're both his sisters.
NURSE. You really are his sisters?
INEZ (Nods head decidedly.) Oh, yes, we're his sisters,
aren't we, Marj ?
MARJ. Oh, yes, indeed.
NURSE. Neither one of you girls resemble him in any
INEZ. That's what everybody says, but just the same,
we're his sisters.
NURSE. That's strange. I wonder why I've never met
you girls before.
MARJ (Gulps.) Then then you've known Vincent a
NURSE. Ever since he was born. You see, girls, I'm
Vincent's mother. (Girls collapse*)
BART a friend
COSTUMES AND TYPES
All three boys are of college age. Joe Is wearing a bath-
robe, or dressing gown, and slippers. Fred is wearing a
new suit and raincoat. Bart also wears a raincoat.
* * *
SCENE; A room very simply set as one might find in a dor-
mitory, Beds are not essential.
(JoE 9 in bathrobe., is pacing angrily back and forth.
BART. Heigh ho 9 Caesar!
JOE. Hello, Bart. You didn't see it on the way in, did
BAE.T. Be more explicit, brother. What did I see if I
JOE, My raincoat.
BART. What are you going to do, wear it to bed?
JOE. I'm not going to bed. I just got up. What time
is it? '
BART. One-thirty. Nearly time for the game that is
if you're interested.
JOE. If I'm interested! I've been interested for half 'an
hour in the whereabouts of my raincoat, I can't go to a
game on a day like this without a raincoat,
WHAT PRICE ROOMMATE 11
BART. Going to wear it over the bathrobe?
JOE. Who said anything about wearing it over a bath-
robe? As soon as I got out of bed I missed my raincoat,
and I've been looking for it ever since.
BART. Where's your honorable roommate?
JOE (Stops abruptly his pacing.) That's where my rain-
coat is. Ill bet a punctured peanut Fred's swiped my rain-
coat. If he has, I'll wring his neck till it sounds like Big
Ben. Come to think of it, he lost his raincoat last week,
BART. Well, don't get sore about it, Joe. You wouldn't
expect the poor kid to go to the game without a raincoat,
JOE. But how how the heck am I expected to go with-
BART. As long as you haven't dressed yet, it would pay
you to go back to bed and forget it.
JOE. You're forgetting that I'm assistant, cheer leader.
BART. Boy, you don't possess enough cheer right now to
be third assistant.
JOE. Well, you wouldn't be the picture of joy and hap-
piness if somebody swiped your raincoat, would you?
BART. Mebbe not. I've had this raincoat for eight years,
JOE. Eight years? That coat?
BART. This coat.
JOE. It certainly doesn't look like you've had it eight
years. How do you keep it looking so new?
BART. That's easy. I've had it cleaned four times and
last week I exchanged it in a restaurant for a newer one.
Come on, if you're going to the game.
JOE. I can't go without a raincoat, can I?
BART. Slip on your clothes and wear the blanket. It
looks like a horse blanket anyway.
JOE. You have a lot o 9 sympathy for a guy in distress!
I hope somebody steals your suspenders on prom night.
BART. The only thing I can suggest is, go without your
JOE. But you don't understand, Bart. Two of my suits
are at the cleaners, and the only suit I have for the game
is a brand new one. I just got it yesterday.
12 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
BART. That's bad. Well, get dressed. By that time Fred
might be back.
JOE. Back, me eye! That bird's at the game now laugh-
Ing up my sleeve. If 1 get my hands on him I'll . '. . ^71-
ler FRED, wearing a raincoat tliat is wet.)
FRED. Baby, and Is it raining!
JOE. Say, you big prune, who said you could wear my
JOE. Then what business have you wearing it?
FRED. Gee, Joe, I didn't think you'd want me to get your
new suit all wet. (Throws back the raincoat, displaying a
new suit. JOE sinks to the chair in a faint.)
JOHN MARSHALTON in trouble
BOB Ms friend
BETTY John's wife
All are about twenty-five and neatly dressed.
SCENE: Living room. A davenport half down Right under
which is a package containing a lady's fur coat. Tele-
LIGHTS OUT ON STAGE
STAGE LIGHTS ON
(JoHN is seated with his head in his hands, looking
disconsolately at floor. BOB is seated near.)
BOB. Snap out ol it, John. Everything will come out all
JOHN. Oh, yeah? (Holds out a letter.) With that hang-
ing over my head? Bob, I'm in for it.
BOB. But she said she'd not say anything if you got her
a new fur coat, didn't she?
JOHN. But how do I know she'll keep her word? Any-
body that would play a dirty trick like that is capable of
doing anything* Bob, sometimes I think I'm a fool. And
I thought I was playing a gentleman's role when I asked
her to ride,
BOB. Times have changed, John. It certainly doesn't
14 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
pay any more to pick up strangers and give them a lift,
If they don't biff you on the head, they blackmail you.
JOHN. Are you telling me? She was standing way out
at the end of Emery Street waiting for a bus to town, and
you know the buses come into town only three times daily.
I thought as long as I was driving into town I might as
well offer her a ride. And then to have her . . .
BOB. Who is It she says she can call as a witness that
you had your arm around her?
JOHN. That guy that runs a filling station on Green and
BOB. Why didn't you see him about it?
JOHN. 1 did go there, but he's gone for a day or two.
BOB. Is he a buddy of her's?
JOHN. He must be if he'll stand up and say that I had
my arm about her when 1 didn't. Anyway, she's getting a
fur coat out of it, and I'm out two hundred dollars.
BOB. It's a tight place, John, 1 realize that, but I be-
lieve I'd hesitate about spending two hundred as hush
JOHN. You would if you were up against it as I am, Bob.
With that woman lying, and a witness to back her up, what
would my wife think? And if it's a ring of crooks, she
may have a dozen other witnesses. It resolves Itself Into
one thing, Bub: buy that she-devil a fur coat or have my
home broken up. Maybe I'd better hide that coat before
the wife pops in,
BOB. Where is she now?
JOHN. Grocery shopping. !
BOB. And where Is the coat?
JOHN. Under the davenport.
BOB. And if the two should meet there' d be trouble.
JOHN. That's my Idea exactly. I have to get rid of that
BOB. What's this woman's name?
JOHN (Referring to the letter.) Lucille Bender,
JOHN. 1336 Fairmont, second floor front.
BOB. Perhaps they're both fictitious.
JOHN. I don't think so. She gave me that address so I'd
know where to send the coat.
BOB. Then why didn't you send it and get it out of the
JOHN. I'm not such a fool as that. Bob. Pm going to
deliver that coat myself and not leave until she signs a
confession that she lies if she says I had my arm about her
in the car.
BOB (Stands.) Well, John, here's hoping you get the
breaks. I have to beat it. I hope everything turns out all
right, and if I can be of any help, call on me.
JOHN. Thanks, Bob, but this looks like a one-man job.
BOB. Or a one-woman job. Well, so long. (Goes Right,)
JOHN. So long. (Pockets the letter. Bob exits Right.)
What a mess! (Sits moodily for a moment, then leaps to
his feet when he hears someone corning off Right.) That
coat! (Quickly snatches it from beneath the davenport
and is about to exit off Left when BETTY enters Right,
dressed for the street. Has a few packages that she depos-
its later on the table.)
BETTY (Laughs.) Don't run away, John, Pm harmless.
JOHN (Stops and looks rather sheepish.) Oh, yes. Hello,
BETTY. My goodness, you look awfully guilty about
JOHN. Guilty? (Forces laugh.) Why should I be guilty?
I was just going to my room with with . . .
BETTY. What's in the package?
JOHN. Oh, just some underwear, Betty. Pll be right
BETTY. Aren't you going to let me see it? I nearly
bought you some while I was out. Let me see it.
JOHN. Aw, Betty, it's just common everyday underwear.
BETTY (Stepping towards him.) I just wanted to look at
it. I won't bite it.
JOHN. Listen, Betty, underwear is underwear, isn't it?
BETTY (Steps to him.) Pm interested, that's all. (Reaches
for the package.)
16 _ THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
JOHN (Steps away.) Aw, Betty, please.
BETTY. John Marshalton, anyone would think you had
a reason for not leiting me see it!
JOHN (Quickly.) Oh, no!
BETTY (Laughs.) Fraidy cat! Fraidy cat! (Bel ore he
realizes she has snatched ihc package from him.)
JOHN (Desperately,) Betty! Give that to me! Do you
hear? Don't you dare open that!
BETTY. Oh! Now 1 do want to see it. (Starts to tear
the paper from the box.)
JOHN (Makes an unsuccessful grab at the package.) For
Pete's sake, Betty, give me . . .
BETTY (Takes the fur coat from the box and gasps.)
John! fJoHN gulps.) John Marshalton! Is is . . . ?
(Throws her arms about his neck.) Oh, John, you darling!
fJoHN gulps.) Oh 5 you dear, dear man! This is one time
you haven't forgotten my birthday. (Kisses him.) I'll be
right back, dear, and you'll think I'm a queen. Ta, ta!
(Prances off Left.)
JOHN (Drops limply onto the davenport.) What a mess!
What a mess! (Telephone rings. He rises slowly and goes
to the phone. He removes the receiver. To phone.) Hello!
. . . (Registers interest.) Huh? (Becomes excited.) Bob!
what did you say? ... What? . . . Say that again, Bob! . .
You just found out that Lucille Bender was pinched for
shoplifting and sentenced? . . . For six months? Excuse
me while I dance. (Replaces the receiver and dances about.
Enter BETTY, wearing the fur coat.)
BETTY. How happy it must make you feel, dear, to give
JOHN. oh," yes, dear, it does. I'm extremely happy.
More than I can ever tell.
BETTY. And, John . . .
BETTY. What animal is this fur from?
JOHN. A jackass.
MONTY MORSE who goes berserk
NORMA Ms wife
DOCTOR LAYMAN who calls
Monty, about thirty, is nicely dressed, but his hair is
tousled, and he is very nervous and upset. Norma, about
twenty-five, a pretty woman in neat house dress, is some-
what bewildered by Monty's condition. Doctor Layman is
a typical doctor with a soothing voice.
# * *
SCENE: Living room.
STAGE IS DARK
( MONTY is standing, staring at the floor, but in every-
way conveying to the audience that he is very nervous.
NORMA is at the phone, but has her eyes on MONTY,
rather anxiously watching him.)
NORMA (To the telephone.) All right. Good-bye. (Re-
turns the receiver and goes to MONTY J And now, dear . .
MONTY. Norma, I tell you it can't be done. Absolutely
can't be done! ...
18 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
NORMA. Please, Monty, don't excite yourself. You'll be
MONTY. Ill, nothing! I'm talking about cats.
NORMA. 1 know, dear, that's all you've talked about
since you got up this morning.
MONTY, But don't you understand, Norma, you can't kill
*em? They're not only blessed with nine lives. Their lives
are eternal. They're impervious to hell, fire and brimstone.
You can't shoot 'em! You can't hang 'em! You can't
drown 'em. The government should dispose of them. It's
the duty of the government to protect its citizens against
such a menace.
NORMA. But, Monty, if they are impervious, as you say,
how can the government dispose of them?
MONTY. That's so, that's so. (Walks nervously around
the circle.) Oh, why did Noah take those two cats into the
ark? Lack of forethought on his part. He should have
thought of the consequences to future generations. Now,
Norma, just take for instance . . .
NORMA. Please, Monty, sit down and calm yourself. Doc-
tor Layman will soon be here.
MONTY, What's he coming for?
NORMA, I want him to give you something for your
nerves. You're all unstrung about something.
MONTY. I'm not unstrung. I'm simply talking about cats.
NORMA. And nothing else. I've heard nothing from you
since you got up but cats, cats, cats. If the doctor doesn't
give you something for your nerves he'll have to give me
something for mine.
MONTY. Excuse me, Norma. I'll not say another word
about cats. But, you know as well as I that cats are a
nuisance. All night long they yodei" All day long they
howl at the doors. They tip over the milk bottles, they . , .
(Doorbell rings. Before NORMA can exit to answer the bell
DOCTOR LAYMAN enters.)
DOCTOR. Good morning.
NORMA. Good morning, Doctor Layman.
DOCTOR* What's the trouble?
NORMA. It's Mr, Morse here. He's developing . . .
CATS IS CATS 19
MONTY. Cats, Doctor, cats! I don't know why she called
you. Doctor. She should have called a veterinarian.
DOCTOR. Please sit down, Mr. Morse. fMoNTY sits.)
Let's see your tongue,
MONTY. My tongue? I haven't been eating cats.
DOCTOR. And your pulse. (Feels MONTY'S wrist.) Ah,
it's very fast.
MONTY. That isn't my pulse, Doctor. That's my wrist-
DOCTOR. Every man's pulse is his wrist watch, ticking
off the seconds of his life.
MONTY. I won't have many seconds left if those cats . . .
DOCTOR (Draws up a chair and sits beside Monty.) Now s
Mr. Morse, just what is this about cats?
MONTY, You can't kill 'em, Doc. They're impervious!
They're . . .
NORMA. Doctor, what do you make of it?
DOCTOR. Nothing but a minor case of obsession, Mrs.
Morse. The persistent and unescapable influence of some
idea or emotion. All that is necessary to bring him out
of it is to have some sympathetic listener hear his story.
Now, Mr. Morse, tell us just what is on your mind.
DOCTOR. Yes, Mr. Morse, we understand that perfectly.
But there is something behind all this some basic reason.
What I want you to do is tell me what prompted your mind
to start dwelling on the subject of cats.
MONTY. I'll tell you, Doctor. We have been bothered to
death by the neighbors' cats. Every neighbor has a cat, and
every cat has more cats. Nothing but cats, cats, cats! (Be-
DOCTOR. (Pats him on his knee.) Easy now, Mr. Morse.
MONTY. Well, one great big black son-of-a-gun old
enough to remember the Civil War has made camp on our
back steps for a month, and nothing that I could do would
induce him to vacate, move or scram. Furthermore, this
cat had many relatives and friends that would visit him
much too often, mostly nocturnal calls and what calls,
20 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
Doctor, what calls! There were cats, cats, cats! (Again
DOCTOR (Pats MONTY'S knee.)- Yes, go on.
MONTY, So last night. Doctor, I went to the basement
and got a brick and a piece of rope. Then sneaking up on
this old Methuselah I grasped him by the neck and strug-
gled with him to the basement. I tied the rope securely
around the cat's neck. The other end of the rope 1 tied
around the brick. You see, everything was being done in a
thorough manner. Then 1 filled an old washtub full of
water. I was going to teach all the other cats a lesson.
Doctor, did you ever step out of your back door and see
nothing but cats, cats, CATS?
DOCTOR (Again pats MONTY'S knee.) Never mind about
that. Just take it easy and tell us. You tied one end of the
rope about the cat's neck, the other end around a brick,
and you filled a tub full of water. Then what?
MONTY. 1 picked up the struggling animal and 1 flung
it into the tub, (Slops.)
DOCTOR. And then?
MONTY, I watched it struggle for a moment. Then heart-
lessly 1 turned away and laughed.
DOCTOR. And then?
MONTY. Then I came upstairs and went to bed.
DOCTOR. And this morning you ...
MONTY. Oh, Doctor, it was awful! (Shivers.)
DOCTOR. You will feel better if you tell us. This morn-
MONTY. This morning I went down to get the cat from
the tub of water so that I could bury him, but Doctor, do
you know what? (Excitedly.) Do you know what?
MONTY. That darn cat had drunk up all the water and
was sitting on top of that brick washing its face! Quick,
NORM.A. Why didn't you tell me, Monty? That old tub
leaks like a sieve.
HENRY HEMPS an amateur orator
ROSE ' Ms wife
JUNIOR a neighbor's little boy
CONCERNING THE CAST
Henry is about thirty. Nicely dressed. Is a very serious
sort of person.
Rose, dressed nicely for street, is a pretty woman of
about twenty-five. Contrasting to Henry, she is lively and
full of fun.
Junior is a boy of about eight, nicely dressed, but not
SCENE: A living room.
STAGE IS DARK
LIGHTS ON BRIGHT
is standing with a typewritten sheet in his
hand. He is looking very serious. Rose, about to leave,
is looking at HENRY with a mischievous smile about her
ROSE. Well, good-bye. Judge.
HENRY. Kid me! Go ahead and kid me. (She laughs
22 THREE-MNUTE BLACKOUTS
heartily.) You've always wanted me to become a man of
influence and now when 1 , .
ROSE , . . become one of the judges In the baby contest
I laugh? Is that It, Henry?
HENRY. You might, at least, appreciate my growing popu-
larity in this community, Rose!
ROSE* Excuse me, Henry, 1 didn't mean to be unappre-
ciative. But it does amuse me to have you appointed a
judge in a baby contest when we have no children of our
HENRY, As far as that goes, a number of our Supreme
Court judges have never been convicted. And my being
appointed a judge in a baby contest when I am not the
father of any children really goes to show that 1 was not
selected because of experience but because of my natural
ability as a judge.
ROSE. Well, I'll be back in time for dinner, Henry. That
will give you a nice long time to rehearse your speech, of
acceptance. Or should I remain here and listen to you
HENRY (His feelings still somewhat damaged.) Oh 5 you
needn't mind. You wouldn't appreciate its fine points, any-
ROSE (Going towards the exit.) Well, bye, bye Judge!
HENRY (Snappishly.) Good-bye! ( Sighs J Now let me
see. (Looks at the paper a moment, takes an oratorical
pose and is about to speak. Changes his mind, steps to the
davenport and arranges the cushions so they will represent
Ms listeners. Steps back, clears her throat, takes a po'se
and speaks dramatically to the cushions.) Ladies and gen-
tlemen, fathers and mothers, it is with great pleasure that
I accept your most kind and flattering offer, I gladly take
upon myself the responsibility of this most pleasant task
of judging the babies that are to be entered in the coming
baby contest. You are all aware that I myself have no chil-
dren yet, but I can proudly say that I know all about
babies, having been one myself. Ha, ha, ha! (Takes a
THE OF ACCEPTANCE 23
more serious attitude.) Babies, dear friends and parents,
are an essential commodity. Little acorns from mighty
oaks that is, big acorns from little . . . Our coming gen-
eration must, therefore, depend upon the acorns babies
of today. The generation that is ahead of us must depend
upon the babies of the past. (Looks at the paper and
speaks much louder.) The welfare of tomorrow depends
upon the infants of today. But, my dear friends, the babies
of today can also be the downfall of tomorrow that is,
the downfall of our whole social and economic system. We
cannot cultivate the weeds in our garden and expect to
reap carrots and spinach. We must do away with the weeds
in their infancy. When once the roots of obnoxious weeds
become firmly embedded in the soil it is much more diffi-
cult to dislodge them and give the better elements of our
gardens an opportunity to grow and thrive. (Louder.)
We cannot expect our babies of today to grow into use-
ful citizens of the future unless we give them all the helpful
and stimulating advantages at our command. And what,
my dear friends, are the advantages? They are good health,
good minds, and the art of thinking clearly for themselves
in any emergency when we cast them out on the waters of
life to float, sink or swim. And what constitutes good
health? Nothing, my friends, but good food, plenty of ex-
ercise, and sleep! And what are good minds? Good minds,
my friends, are minds that quickly grasp the opportunities
that lie about them, and if opportunities lie about them as
much as the parents do, there'll be plenty of opportunities.
And sleep, my dear parents, sleep is the one great and
precious factorial asset that every baby is entitled to. Sleep,
that their bodies and minds may grow uniformly and nat-
urally. Sleep that the tired muscles may be regenerated,
and the blood supply slowed down for the rest that is nec-
essary for the coming day. (Very loudly.) Let me repeat :
A man may go without raiment he may go without shel-
ter he may go without food for many days, but a baby
needs its sleep. (Yells.) Therefore, my friends, give the
baby sleep sleep! Let nature dictate to him! Sleep!
(Knock on the door.)
HENRY (Sharply.) Come in! ( JUNIOR enters,) Oh, it's
you,, Junior. Does your mother want to borrow anything?
JUNIOR. Naw s she just wanted me to ask you to turn off
JUNIOR. She says It's so loud she can't get our baby to
KENT the husband
MARY the wile
TILLIE her spinster sister
Kent is about twenty-five. Nice looking and nicely
dressed. Mary, a pretty girl of twenty-two, wearing a pretty
house dress. TUlie, about thirty, is a typical spinster.
Plain, tight-fitting dress,
SCENE: Living room. KENT'S hat and topcoat are on the
STAGE LIGHTS ON
(KENT is reading a newspaper. MAHY is reading a
book. TILLIE is knitting. Doorbell off Right rings.)
KENT. Now what?
MARY. Don't get up 5 Kent. I'll answer it. (Exits Right.)
TILLIE. Humph! Another agent, I suppose. I never saw
so many agents and peddlers in my life. I'll be glad when
I get back home and away from these everlasting doorbells.
They jiggle my nerves all to pieces. Getting home will be
26 ^ "_ _ _ THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS^
KENT. It certainly will.
TILLIE. Beg pardon?
KENT. Nothing, (Enter MARY with a letter.)
TILLIE. For me?
MARY. Special delivery letter for you, Kent.
KENT. Me? (Takes the lelter v ) Thanks. (Opens it.
Reads and becomes very much interested.)
MARY. What is it, Kent?
KENT. Nothing, dear. (Stands.) I'm going out for a
MARY (Hurt.) All right, if you won't tell me I guess I
can stand it.
TILLIE. You certainly stand for more than I'd stand from
any man, Mary. Staying single, I guess, isn't so bad, after
all, fKENT lakes the hat and topcoat jrom the davenport.)
MARY. You're not going to tell me, Kent?
KENT. Why should I?
MARY. Mean old thing!
KENT (Dons the coat and hat. Starts to place the letter
in a pocket of the coat, but drops it to the floor where it
lies unnoticed.) Good-bye! (Hurries out; Right.)
MARY (Sadly,) He might have told me where lie was
TILLIE. Well, for heaven's sake, Mary, don't cry. Men
like to cause women all the misery they can. They think
it's smart. (Sees the letter lying on the floor.) Look, that's
his letter, (Picks it up.) 1 think we have a right to know.
MARY. Kent wouldn't want you to read it, Tillie.
TILLIE. That doesn't mean I'm not going to read it.
MARY. But it's private.
TILLIE. Only while it's in the envelope. (Reads aloud.)
"Dear Kent: Meet me at Joe's. I finally got Alice to come
with me. She acts sometimes as though she wanted to ap-
pear shy, but believe me, there's nothing shy about her.
I've been wanting you two to meet for a long time, and if
you don't fall in love with her at first sight there's some-
thing wrong with you. You're just the sort of man that
will appeal to her. And is she beautiful! I ask you to ask
POP GOES THE 27_
me. Irrisistible eyes! Hair you'll love to pat. Anyway, if
you can sneak away, come at once. Ed." Humph! And
that's your husband, Mary, What do you -think of that?
MARY (Almost crying.) I can't believe it.
^ TILLIE. That's because you're foolish. "Why, I wouldn't
live with him another hour,
MARY. But he's my husband. *
TILLIE. And anybody else's sweetheart. You can't trust
them, Mary, That's the reason I never married.
MARY (Bursts into tears.) Whatll I do? Oh 5 whatll
TILLIE. Get out. Walk out on him. Show him you're not
just a jellyfish. Show him that you have a will of your
own. Show him that you you . . . Just pack up and get
MARY. But, Tiffie, whereli I go?
TILLIE. I'm your sister, am I not? Come home with me.
Humph! (Looks at the letter.) Irresistible eyes! Wretch!
Hair you'll love to pat! And a waist, I suppose, he'll love
MARY (Stands and clenches her hands J Stop, Tillie!
Stop! Get my bag from my room.
TILLIE (Stands.) Now you're talking sense, Mary. I'll
get your bag and help to pack it. (Exits Left.)
MARY (Starts to cry. Then purses her lips and stands
rigid.) I won't cry! I won't! Ill show him! I'll go home
with Tillie and I'll make dates with other men, and I'll
I'll . . . (Enter TILLIE with a bag that she drops to the
TILLIE. Let's hurry before he gets back. The less he
knows the more effective it will be. You can't be too cruel
to such men.
MARY ( Dramatically. ) I'll never come back! Never!
Never! Never! Ill never even write to him! He'll never
see me again! Hell never hear of me again! To him 111
be as dead as as . .
TILLIE. ... a herring. (Enter KENT, Right, with a Pom-
eranian, or other small., long-haired dog beneath his arm.)
KENT. It's for you, Mary.
28 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
KENT. Irresistible eyes! Hair you'll love to pat. Isn't
she a beauty? And did I fall in love with her.
MARY. Oh, Kent, what's her name?
KENT. It may sound coincidental, but it's Tillie.
KENT (Sees bag.) What's the bag for?
TILLIE. I'm going home. Too many doorbells.
BILL S two brothers and one sister
Art, Bill and Lois, are of a high school age. All are mod-
ern young people, nicely dressed.
SCENE: Living room, neatly furnished. Telephone on a
small stand on one side of the stage.
STAGE IS DARK
STAGE LIGHTS ON
(When the curtain rises ART and BILL are facing each
other from the opposite side of the center table or daven-
port., scowling very belligerently.)
ART. One more crack out o* you, big boy, and I'll . . .
BILL. Oh, yeah? Advertising for the heavyweight cham-
ART. Just the same, Bill, you lay off Jane Farrel.
BILL. Suppose you have a copyright on her, huh?
ART. I sure have, and I don't want any infringements.
30 __ THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS '
Lois. Well, for heaven's sake, Art, are you and Bill fight-
BILL. Not again yet.
Lois. And is it Jane Farrel this time?
ART. Who else could it be, Sis? But it's the last fight
we're going to have over her. I'm going to wallop this big
palooka . . .
BILL. You're what?
ART. Can't you understand English? You're as dumb
here as you are in class, only more so.
BILL. Who's dumb in class besides you?
ART. You sit there all clay doing nothing.
BILL. How do you know?
ART. Because I sit there all day and watch you. And
what a bright remark you made today. Wow!
BILL. What remark did . . . ?
ART. Just too dumb to know what you did in physics
class. Miss Herman asks you to name something with only
one foot, and you yell, "A sock!" And you think you're
smart enough to get Jane Farrel away from me. Huh!
BILL. What d'you mean away from you? You never
Lois. Please, boys, please. If Jane knew how you're
fighting over her, she'd never speak to either of you.
BILL. What right has this hatrack to try and stop me
from getting a date with Jane if I want to, and can? Just
because he took her home from that party the other night
he thinks she's his property. Well, I'm stepping in right
now. How d'you like that, big brother?
Lois Well, of course, everything is fair in love and
war . . .
ART. There's love, all right, and there's soon going to be
war, and there's no league of nations to settle it. I'm knee-
deep in love with her.
BILL. Haw-haw! Knee-deep!
ART. You heard me- knecdeep.
BILL. No wonder you're on her wading list. Excuse me,
Sir Loin, but I'm calling Jane for a date right now.
ART. I -wish I could hear what shell be calling you. To
her you'll never play anything but second fiddle.
BILL. I'd rather play second fiddle to her than be a
whole orchestra to any girl
ART. Honest, Bill, if you keep on talking I'll burst right
BILL. You won't laugh after I call her.
ART. Okay-doke, Bill But don't blame me if you die of
a broken heart. Go ahead and call her. You did me a
great favor once.
BILL. / must have been sleeping.
ART. I'll never in all my life forget what you did for me.
BILL. Well, what did I do?
ART. Well, I can't think what it was right now, but ...
BILL. Bah! (Goes to the phone.) *
ART. Sis, this is going to be good.
Lois. For whom?
BILL (To the phone.) Mayfair, 2-6-9-6. (To ART.J Bet-
ter find another girl, Art. This baby is bye-bye to you.
(To the phone.) Hello! . . . Jane? . . . This is Ball . . .
Bill! ... no, not gas, electric or Buffalo. Bill Carter. Lis-
ten, Jane, how about a big date tonight? . . . I can show
you a swell time, Jane . . . No, I don't know any other girl.
It's you, Jane. I dream of you by night I dream of you
by day. Your eyes, Jane like limpid pools of water. Your
lips, Jane like rosebuds. Your hair, Jane like golden
tress. Your feet, Jane like . . .
ART (Loudly.) , . . submarines!
BlLL. Shut up! (Quickly to the phone.) No, no, Jane,
not you! Hello Jane! Hello! Hello! (Turns to find
Lois and ART laughing heartily.) I'll . . . (Advances threat*
eningly towards ART.J I'll . . . (Telephone rings,)
Lois. Now be quiet. I'll answer it. (Goes to the phone.)
Hello . . . Oh, hello, Jane.
BILL and ART. Jane? ,
Lois (To the phone.) Yes ... Oooo! Goody! You bet
I will, Jane. Good-bye. (Hangs up the receiver.)
BILL and ART (Starting for the phone.) For me?
32 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
Lois. For me. Jane wants me to come to her house this
evening. She's having two of her boy friends there and . . .
BILL and ART. What?
Lois. She said some boob just called her, but she didn't
get his name*
ART. Bill, let's go to a show,
BILL. No* I'm going to my lab' and take some strychnine.
JACK FIRMAN )
> on their honeymoon
SAM the bellhop
SCENE: A hotel room. A simple living room setting will
answer the purpose.
STAGE LIGHTS ON FULL
(JACK is standing with an arm about BABS. A few
feet away stands SAM, grinning broadly as he fingers
the money in his hand.)
JACK (To SAM..) And you'll do that for us, Mr. er . . . ?
SAM (Grinning.) Dey calls me Sam foh short, sah.
JACK. Well, Sam, perhaps if you do a good job of keep-
ing your mouth shut there'll be another two dollars for
you when we leave.
SAM. Yes, sah, yes, sah. I keeps shet a'right. All I does
am say nuffin' 5 an 9 I doan say dat very loud, sah. No, sah,
34 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
1 (loan say nuflin' 'bout you an' de lady jest bein' married,
JACK, That's the boy, Sam. Mrs. Firman here is quite
sensitive and she doesn't like to be pointed out as a a
SAM. She doan need worryfy none 'bout me tellin' no-
body in dis hotel dat you'ns am jest married. I jest natch-
erly doan know nuffin' 'bout it.
BABS, That's exactly it, Sam, and perhaps well, per-
haps if you are a very good Jboy I'll be able to find an-
other dollar for you, also.
SAM. Golly, Miss, I sho' kin be pow'ful good fob a
dollah. When Fs home Fs good foh nuffin'.
JACK. All right, Sam, now run along and don't let any-
body know that we're on our honeymoon.
SAM. Trust me, boss. Some day mebbe I'll go on a
honeymoon, too. You isn't de fust "jest marrieds" dat's
been hcah. 'Cose you can't fool me. I spots 'em like a
seben on a gallopin' dice soon's dey comes in de hotel,
but . . . (Looks at the money in his hands.) . . . when dey's
s'ficient fie-nances Fs shet tighter den a streetcah window.
(Grins and exits.)
JACK. And now for some cigarettes and a little exercise.
BABS. Let me go, Jack dear. I want a magazine.
JACK. You rest. I'll get you a magazine.
BABS. But I don't know what I want until I look them
over. I'll go and while I'm there I'll get your cigarettes.
JACK. 0. K., Babs. Your mother told me before we left
that I shouldn't argue with you.
BABS. We'll never argue, will we, dear? (Places her
arms about his neck.)
JACK. I should say not. We'll never argue. We may dis-
cuss things, but we'll never argue. Now run along, and
while you're gone you might get me a little exercise.
BABS (Kisses him.) You won't be lonesome while I'm
away, will you?
JACK. Be sure and write.
BABS. Oh, isn't love wonderful! Jack, do you still love
THE NEWLYWEDS 35
JACK, I'll love you forever and ever!
BABS. Ah, men! (Laughs and skips out. JACK smiles
happily, sighs and sits. Enter BABS, looking worried.)
JACK (Leaps to his feet.) Babs! What's happened?
BABS. Jack, I started down the hall and everybody
everybody stared at me.
JACK. They stared at you? Why?
BABS. I don't know. They made me ieel guilty of some-
thing. They just looked and looked as if I had done some-
thing awful committed murder or something. Do you
think Sam . . . ?
JACK. I hardly think so, but of course we don't know
anything about that bellhop. His mouth takes up a lot of
BABS. I bet he 1 told everybody we were just married.
JACK (Goes to the phone.) Hello! Hello! Room 311,
Could you please send Sam up at once? . . . Thank you.
(Turns. to BAssJ Well soon find out. If he has broad-
cast . . .
BABS. No, don't do that, Jack." He's just a boy.
JACK. Well, anyway, I can scare him so he'll not embar-
rass another newly married couple. I'll tell him plenty, and
then we can go to another hotel.
BABS. But, Jack, they'll charge you for this room, any-
way, and that's about twelve dollars. Maybe I'm too sensi-
tive, anyway. (Knock on the door.)
JACK (Roughly.) Come in! (Enter SAM.)
SAM. Yes, sah, Mistah Firman?
JACK. Sam, did you go right out of this room and tell
everybody that we were just married?
SAM. No, sah, Mistah Firman, no sah, I didn't tell no-
body nuffin' 'bout you jest bein' married, no, sah.
JACK. Are you sure that you didn't say a thing about
our being married and on our honeymoon?
SAM. Hones 5 goodness, boss, I didn't said nuffin 5 'bout
you bein' married. Fac 9 am, boss, 1 done do you a favor,
JACK. What do you mean, you did us a favor?
36 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
SAM. Why, Mistah Firman, I knows right off dat It
wouldn't be right foh nobody to know dat you was jest
married, so 1 jest clinches de whole thing an' makes sure
by tellin' evahbody dat you two wasn't married a-tall.
I'BABS falls limply into JACK'S arms. He grits his teeth,)
TOM who was a boy once, too
JUNE Ms wife
AUNT EMMA June's maiden aunt
COSTUMES AND CHARACTERISTICS
Tom and June are about twenty-seven and twenty-four,
respectively* Both nicely dressed. Aunt Emma is a typical
spinster and dressed to accentuate the part.
SCENE: Comfortable living room.
(ToM is sprawled lazily in a chair reading a paper.
Enter JUNE with a piece of mail)
TOM (Looks up.) Any mail, June?
JUNE (Tosses the mail on the table.) Nothing but an ad.
TOM. That's better than nothing but a dun. No further
word from your Aunt Emma?
JUNE. No, Tom. I was positive she would write again
before she arrived. She wasn't very explicit in her other
38 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
TOM. Well, we'll have to take her at her word and ex-
pect her here this morning. Where's the letter you got
from her yesterday?
JUNE. Here. (Takes the letter from the book on the
table. Hands it to TQM.,) You already know what's in it.
TOM. Just to be sure we have things straight. (Looks
at the letter.) Writes like a man, doesn't she?
JUNE. I'd advise you to say nothing like that in her
presence. She's a man-hater.
TOM. Most women are that have never been proposed to,
JUNE. Now, Torn, don't say mean things about my aunt.
TOM. I'm just kidding, June.
JUNE. Read that part again where she says she is com-
ing with Dicky.
TOM. A, man-hater, huh? Dicky is no feminine name.
JUNE. Please read!
TOM (Reading letter.) "And now for the important news,
June. I will arrive at your place Tuesday morning ..."
JUNE. This is Tuesday morning.
TOM. If there is no opposition to that remark I'll pro-
TOM (Reading.) "I will arrive at your place Tuesday
morning with Dicky. And, June, how you'll love him. He's
a darling. So young and cunning." Well, June, that's that.
What do you make of it?
JUNE. Why ask me? You're as good at guessing as I.
TOM. Your aunt is a er . . .
JUNE (Laughs.) Say it, Tom, say it. Aunt Emma is an
TOM. Spinster or bachelor girl might sound better. And
now about this boy, Dicky. Where does he come in?
JUNE. Well, you know, I told you when I saw Aunt Em-
ma three years ago that she was threatening to adopt a
boy from the orphan home. She must have carried out
that threat. Anyway, it appears that she thinks the world
of this Dicky* The only thing, Tom, is that that . . .
TOM, Yes, now you say it, June, say it. Your Aunt Em-
AUNT EMMA BRINGS DICKY 39
ma has a lot of money and now that she has adopted a boy
our name Is mud in her will, eh?
JUNE. Well, of course, nothing was ever said about us
being named as heirs. We just took it for granted.
TOM. It wouldn't hurt us any to make a big showing of
hospitality. She might be inveigled into leaving us a little
slice, and I presume the best way to make a favorable im-
pression is to rave over -Dicky.
JUNE. How about those things I told you to get?
TOM. I have them all ready to put on display.
JUNE. Then you had better get them on display. She's
liable to pop in here any minute now.
TOM (Stands.) 0. K. Here goes Santa Glaus. (Exits.
Then calls from offstage.) Should I call her Aunt Emma?
JUNE. Why, of course, Tom.
TOM. I was just wondering. If she's a man-hater I
can't take any chances.
JUNE. But hurry with those toys before she does come.
TOM. I'm coming. (Enters with a toy train, some build-
ing blocks, a big rubber ball and toy horn.) If these things
don't please the kid, there's something wrong with the new
JUNE. They should please him. Richard, no doubt, is
like any other boy. (ToM sits on, the floor with the toys.)
What are you . . . ?
TOM. Going to build something so it'll look as though
we were counting a lot on his coming. Tact and diplomacy,
I call it. " (Piles the blocks.) Look, June, this is the rail-
road station. It takes me back a few years. And here, this
is a taxi that's trying to get to the station to meet the train.
(Runs the ball toward the station as he loudly blows the
horn.) Come on, boy, step on it! (Blows the horn.) Ding-
dong! June, the train's pulling out! Taxi isn't going to
make it! (Blows the horn.) Hear him come, June! Ding-
dong! (Blows the horn.)
JUNE. Sh! Tom, was that the bell?
TOM. Sure, train pulling out.
JUNE. I mean the doorbell (Doorbell offstage rings.)
Tom! It is the bell!
40 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
TOM. I didn't hear a thing. (Blows the horn.) Come
on, taxi! Step on It! DIngdong! (Toots the horn enthu-
siastically. AUNT EMMA appears in the doorway with a
birdcage in which is a canary. She is staring at TOM who
does not see her.)
JUNE. Aunt Emma! (Runs to her.)
AUNT EMMA. No one answered the bell so I walked in.
(Nods her head to TOM who is staring at her.) Is he all
right in the head?
JUNE (Laughs heartily.) Oh, Aunt Emma! He's all
ready to play with Richard.
AUNT EMMA. Richard?
JUNE. Yes, Dicky. Where is Dicky?
AUNT EMMA (Holds up the bird cage.) This is Dicky.
fJUNE bursts into laughter. TOM draws back his foot and
kicks over the railroad station.)
GRACE RITTER the girl
CECIL CADD the boy
DADDY RITTER Grace's father
ABOUT THE CHARACTERS
Grace is a pretty girl of nineteen or twenty. Cecil is a
typical sissy. Very foppish. Dressed immaculately. Ego-
tistical. Daddy is a pleasant, middle-aged man, fairly well
SCENE: Living room. May be played in a parlor,
STAGE IN DARKNESS
STAGE LIGHTS ON
(CECIL, apparently very well satisfied with himself, is
seated on the davenport. DADDY is standing in front of
him, hands in, his pockets. He appears to be somewhat
amused as there is a half smile on his face.)
DADDY. Then, Mr. Cadd, as I understand it, you are de-
sirous of marrying my daughter? Am I right?
CECIL. Yes, sir, Mr. Ritter. If I make mention of it my-
self, sir, I do not think she could do better.
42 ; ^ THREE-MINUTE BL ACKOllTS _
DADDY. In other words, If Grace should marry you she
would at once be transported to a sort of Utopia?
CECIL* Yes, sir, you might put it that way, for I'm al-
ready convinced that Gracy would be the happiest girl in
the world if she were mine.
DADDY. 1 admire your confidence, my boy. 1 surely do.
But tell me, how has this affair progressed so far without
my ever seeing you here?
CECIL. Well, we have met a number of times, sir.
DADDY. And you and Grace have come to an agreeable
understanding in this matter?
CECIL. Well, I can hardly go so far as to say that, Mr.
Ritter. I haven't definitely mentioned marriage to Gracy,
but I look for no objection on her part.
DADDY. Mr. Cadd, 1 reiterate if I may use the word
CECIL (Condescendingly.) You may use the word.
DADDY. Thank you so much. As I said, I reiterate when
I say that 1 admire your confidence. Grace has always
been her own boss- that is, in most matters, and I wouldn't
think of going against her wishes at this late date*
CECIL. Then, sir, 1 have your parental consent to pro-
ceed with any necessary arrangements for our marriage?
DADDY. My boy, your self-confidence is beyond compre-
hension to one such as L
CECIL. I am glad, Mr. Ritter, that you recognize that
rare and valuable quality, and what it will mean to your
DADDY (Registers extreme seriousness.) There is one
thing, however, Mr. Cadd. You have not as yet mentioned
your intentions to my daughter, and perhaps it would be
well that she be given some hint of what you intend to do,
To have this happiness heaped upon her without warning
may be somewhat detrimental to her well being. And then
again, Grace may wish to make a few suggestions regard-
ing the trousseau, the selection of her silverware, and so on.
CECIL. 1 must have time to think it over, sir, but I be-
lieve I can make such a concession.
DADDY. You are very kind. Now there is one stipula-
tion that I would like to make.
( AND HE NEVER CAME BACK 43
CECIL. I will consider any stipulation you might find
advisable to make, Mr. Ritter.
DADDY. It is this. I am not as young as I used to be. In
a few years it is my earnest desire to retire, and I want my
son-in-law to 'Continue my business. I cannot let it die with
CECIL. In other words, sir . . .
DADDY. In other words, any man that marries my daugh-
ter must become my partner in business. I will send Grace
to you at once. Good night. (Turns abruptly and ap-
proaches the exit.)
CECIL. And Mr. Ritter.
DADDY (Stops.) Yes?
CECIL. Tell Gracy there is a pleasant surprise awaiting
DADDY. I will. (Laughs heartily and exits.)
CECIL (Carefully brushes back his hair, and spends a
few moment primping. Enter GRACE J
GRACE. Good evening, Cecil.
CECIL (Stands and bows.) Gracy, you look delightfully
charming this evening.
GRACE. Thank you, Cecil. (Sits on the davenport,)
Please sit down.
CECIL. - Thank you. Gracy, I j ust spoke to your father
about our marriage.
GRACE (Registering surprise.) About about our mar-
CECIL. Why, yes. Hadn't you thought of it?
GRACE (Not showing much enthusiasm.) I had not.
Daddy said there was a pleasant surprise in store for me.
CECIL. Don't you think getting married to me would be
a pleasant surprise?
GRACE, Well, it would be a surprise, all right. And
Daddy really said that I could marry you?
CECIL. Not only that, Gracy, but he insisted that as soon
as we were married that I go into partnership with him.
GRACE (Suppressing smile.) He did, really?
CECIL. He did. I consider your father a man of extreme
far-sightedness. He at once perceived in me that rare qual-
44 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS ' _
Ity of leadership necessary to the success of any business.
He offered absolutely no objections to our marriage. But
I did not anticipate any, for there are none.
GRACE. As soon as you marry me you are to become
CECIL. Exactly, Gracy, exactly.
GRACE. But wasn't he reluctant about placing any re-
sponsibilities upon you when you know nothing of his
CECIL. He didn't seem to. He saw only my inborn tal-
ent . . .
GRACE. He, of course, informed you what his business
CECIL. No, we didn't go into that. With my intelligence
1 could . . .
GRACE. Really, Mr. Cadd, before proceeding further it
might be well that you understand perfectly just what my
father is so that when you become his partner you will
understand what's expected of you.
CECIL, Oh, well, what is your father?
GRACE. A professional parachute jumper. (CECIL, slides
from the davenport and heads for the exit, GRACE laughs.)
HIRAM SLATTERLEY . just a hick
MARTHA his wife
JOE CRANE.... representing the Affiliated Highway Barbecues
EDWARD HOWE the association's appraiser
SCENE: Simple but neat and comfortable living room.
STAGE IN TOTAL DARKNESS
STAGE LIGHTS ON
( HIRAM is pacing nervously back and forth. MARTHA
is seated, reading or knitting,)
HIRAM. I tell you, Martha . . .
MARTHA. For heaven's sake, Hiram, cool down. Just
because a couple of city men call you a hick . . .
HlRAM. But we're not hicks any more than any other
farmer these days. We take our daily newspaper. ^We have
our radio. We have a car. We "have our children in school,
and one in college. It makes me hot under the collar, Mar-
tha, to have some slinky-eyed, oily-haired city boob come
out here and call us hicks.
MARTHA. Well, you admitted they didn't call you a nick
to your face, didn't you?
HIBAM. Well, even so, it doesn't go down very good. I
was standing there at the post office when I heard these two
46 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
men talking about how easy the hicks around here looked.
They didn't notice me. And I'll be dog-goned if they didn't
mention my name.
MARTHA. Your name?
HIRAM, Yes, siree, Martha, my name. One of them said
he'd looked about these parts the week before and decided
Hiram Slatlcrley looked like good meal to him. Good meat,
Martha! Do I look like a ham or a pork chop?
MARTHA. What did they mean?
HIRAM. That's what 1 was wondering, too, so I circled
around and a little later I walked up to them and passed
the time sort of dumb like, and acted like I was interested
In their coming to our section of the country. Then I intro-
duced myself sort of nonchalantly, and oh, say, I got a
letter from our Larry.
MARTHA. What did he say? Did he pass his final chem-
istry examination? Just what day will college close, and
when will he be home?
HiRAM, Is that all you want to know? I haven't had a
chance to open the letter yet. Sh! Listen! There's a car
driving in. Quick, Martha, you step out of here, and don't
come back till I call you.
MARTHA, But . . .
HiRAM. No buts, Martha, and don't pay any attention to
what I do. I'm going to be a regular hick for a while. Now
get out quick. (Pushes her off Left, she trying to protest.
Knock on the door, Right.) Come in ! (Enter JOE and ED,
JOE. Hello, Mr. Slatterley!
HiRAM. Well, gosh-burn, howdy! I reckoned as how
you'ns be drivm' down this-a-way. Come right in, Mr.
Crane. You, too, Mr. Howe. Come right in an' make your-
self at hum.
JOE. Thanks, Mr. Slatterley. By the way, just call me
Joe and call him Ed.
HIRAM. Dinged if I won't. You'ns call me Hiram. Might
as well be neighborly. Sit down. (They sit.)
JOE. I presume you have thought over the proposition
we spoke of this morning?
WHO'S A HICK? 47
HIRAM. Yep, but I ain't had much chance to speak to
Marthy 'bout it. Now lemme see, you was repersentin' what
was it? ; J j ,i
JOE. I am representing the Affiliated Highway Barbe-
cues, and Ed 'here is their official appraiser. By opening
these barbecues along the principal highways under one
head they can be made to pay, and we are in a position to
offer the farmers better prices for their land. Now you
have an ideal location for such a stand. You offered us
your farm this morning for seven thousand dollars.
HIRAM. Yep, that's right. Reckon when Larry gits home
from college an 5 is a fust class chemist he won't keer to
stay here no-how. Reckon you'd like to go over the farm?
ED. There isn't any use of doing that. In driving past a
few of your fields I feel safe in saying that there is no ques-
tion as to its value to us. v
JOE. Now, Hiram, you no doubt understand that we can-
not pay you the entire seven thousand dollars today, or
until it "is 0. K'd by the board of directors. However, we
can give you five hundred dollars for an option on the
HIRAM. I ain't 'zactly up on them option things.
JOE. It is simply a paper that you and your wife sign
that says we may buy the land whenever we please at the
price mentioned. We give you five hundred dollars to bind
the bargain, and then, of course, you cannot sell it to any-
HIRAM. Gosh, that's fair 'nough. 'Scuse me a minute till
I call the old woman. (Exits Right. JOE and ED look at
each other and laugh.)
JOE. It's like talcing candy from a baby.
ED. Now let's get this straight quick, Joe. We get an
option for five hundred dollars. Then a little later we
dump a few barrels of oil on his land, and he thinks there's
a fortune in oil if he can get the land back. But we don't
let him have it back unless he comes across with two or
three thousand dollars.
JOE. That's it in a nutshell. If he wants the option can-
celed he pays us plenty. But we have to work fast. He said
Ms kid was coming home from college in a week or so,
arid if lie's a full-Hedged chemist, why he'll . . . (Enter
HIRAM and MARTHA, Left.)
^ HIRAM. This _ is Marlliy, fellers. Marlhy, this is Mr.
Crane an 5 Mr, Howe.
MARTHA. How do you do? (ED and JOE stand and bow
HIRAM. Marlhy says as how she's purty busy, so inchbe
we teller be a-gcttin' tilings iixed up right smart. (MARTHA
looks at HIRAM somewhat bewildered.) You fellers, I reck-
on, is got the five hundred dollars with you?
JOE. Oh, certainly, Hiram. Also, the option is all made
MARTHA. Hiram, just what are you doing?
HlRAM. Now you just hush up, Marlhy. Fin gcttin' to
be a reg'lar big business man, I am. fJoE and ED wink at
each other.) Full your chairs right op to the table, fellers,
and Marthy, you git that bottle o' ink an 3 that pen over
ED. 1 have a fountain pen here.
HIRAM. Not fcr me, Ed. I ain't never got used to them
new fangled things. Ain't none too good with the old styled
pen. ("MARTHA places the ink and pen on the table.)
JOE (As he and ED go lo the table.) Here's the option,
(Lays paper on the table.) All you have to do Is to sign
it. Mr. Slattcrlcy here, and Mrs, Slallerley directly beneath.
HIRAM. Jest lo show you fellers I ain't no easy mark 1
don't sign nothin' till I gits the five hundred dollars.
JOE (Laughs.) I don't blame you, Hiram. One can tell
you're ^ too smart to be gold-bricked. (Another wink at
ED.J Here's the five hundred. (Lays the bills on the table.)
MARTHA. Hiram Slatlerley, just what does all this mean?
HlRAM. Tut, lut, Marthy, tut-tut. Gimme that pen.
(Takes pen, dips it carefully in the ink and writes. Hands
pen to MARTHA.^ Right; under mine, Martha. (She hesi-
tates, then signs.) There ye be, fellers. There's your option,
or whatever you calls it.
JOE. Now you understand, Mr. Slalterley, we can have
-'. *?.- WHO'S A HICK? 49
possession of the property at any time by paying the bal-
ance of the seven thousand dollars.
HIRAM. Yep, that's right.
JOE (Shakes HIRAM'S hand.) Good-bye, Hiram, Pretty
easy, wasn't it?
ED (Shakes HIRAM'S hand.) There's a lot of easy ways
to make money, aren't there?
HIRAM. Yep 5 more than most people know 'bout, says I.
Good-bye. (Exeunt JOE and ED, Right.)
MARTHA. Now, Hiram Slatterley, what does all this tom-
HIRAM. It means, Martha, that a hick isn't as dumi| as
he looks. Look at this, would you? (Holds up money.)
Five hundred dollars!
MARTHA. But they have an option on the farm.
HlRAM. They just think they have. They didn't know
that I knew all about their scheme. Come .here and try to
flim-flam me! Come here and get an option on this land,
and then later pour oil on it so I'll be crazy enough to pay
them three thousand dollars to get my option canceled.
MARTHA. But, Hiram, we did sign the option, didn't we?
HIRAM. Sure, we did, but that won't do them any good.
We used that ink that Larry made up in chemistry class.
It's what he calls disappearing ink. In five or six hours
there won't be a scratch of our names on that option. When
they open up that paper tomorrow they'll find nothing but
the dotted lines.
MRS. WANTROCKS with social ambitions
EVELYN her daughter, with similar ambitions
JUNIOR too young for ambitions
HOMEK HOLTEN a good catch
CONCERNING THE CAST
Mrs. Waulrocks is about forty-five years old and is a
type of woman who is ambitious to climb the social ladder,
but cannot quile make the grade. Evelyn is a daughter alter
her mother's heart. Rather pretty, but somewhat petulant.
Junior is just an ordinary boy of ten who, no doubt, takes
after his father more than his mother. He is nicely dressed.
Homer is about twenty-four, and is immaculately attired.
SCENE: Living room. Entrances Left and Right stage.
STAGE LIGHTS ON
(EVELYN and JUNIOR are on the stage. EVELYN is giv-
ing JUNIOR instructions and emphatically shaking her
finger in his face.)
EVELYN. For once in your life. Junior Wantrocks, 1
want you to behave yourself when Mr. Holton conies,
JUNIOR. Oh, sure, Sis, 1 will
CHILDISH PRATTLE 51
EVELYN. That's what you always promise, '"but when
somebody calls to see me you're always on hand to make
some very embarrassing remark. If I had my way, you'd
go to bed now,
JUNIOR. It isn't my bedtime.
EVELYN. Then please sit down and be quiet.
JUNIOR (Holds out his hand.) How about a dime?
EVELYN. I don't happen to have a dime. But if you
promise to be quiet, and keep your promise, I'll give you
fifteen cents when I do get some money.
JUNIOR. That's what Dad calls dealing in futures and it's
a burn way of doing business.
EVELYN. You'll get your fifteen cents.
JUNIOR. 0. K., Sis, I'll keep quiet. (Plumps down in
deep chair with a book. Enter MRS. WANTROCKS, Left.)
EVELYN. What time is it, Mother?
MRS. WANTROCKS. Nearly eight o'clock.
EVELYN. Is Daddy home yet?
MRS. WANTROCKS. Why, no, Evelyn. He wasn't to meet
that man until eight-thirty. Oh, how I hope he sells that
property. It will mean a commission to him of two hun-
dred dollars, and we certainly need it.
EVELYN. Nearly eight. Mr. Holten ought to be here
MRS. WANTROCKS. Yes, he should. And how I do hope
you'll do your utmost to get him to propose to you,
Evelyn. Wouldn't it be just too wonderful for you to be
the wife of Homer Holten! Just think of the social influ-
ence it would ' bring to us.
EVELYN. It may not be so easy to marry a million dol-
MRS. WANTROCKS. The only way to impress a man of
his financial standing is to talk his language. Talk big
money, big plans ...
JUNIOR. Sis, can't even talk a dime. She's always deal-
ing in futures.
MRS. WANTROCKS. Junior, if you don't keep quiet I'll
send you to bed at once. If your sister should happen to
marry Mr. Holton we'd all have plenty of dimes. So don't
spoil everything with your childish prattle. And, Evelyn,
1 believe It will be a good Idea for me to do most of the
talking when Mr. Hollon first arrives. 1 am, older than
you, and understand how . . .
JUNIOR . . . to talk big money.
MRS, WANTROCKS. Junior!
JUNIOR. 0. K, (Doorbell rings off Right.)
MRS, WANTROCKS. Shh! Junior, answer the door.
JUNIOR. 0. K. Sis, don't forget that fifteen cents. (Exits
EVELYN. Oh, Mother, I'm so nervous.
MRS. WANTROCKS. Don't show it, for heaven's sake. You
must give him the impression that receiving marriage pro-
posals Is a common thing with you. You might talk about
some of the proposals you've had from men high in, society.
(Enter JUNIOR and HOMER, Right.)
JUNIOR. It's Mr. Holten, Ma Mother.
MRS. WANTROCKS (Advances to HOMER with outstretched
hand.) So glad, I assure you, Mr. Holten.
HOMER (Accepts her hand and bows graciously.) Thank
you, Mrs. Wantrocks. It is a pleasure to call, I assure you.
(Turns to EVELYN J You look charming, Miss Wantrocks.
EVELYN. Thank you.
HOMER. I parked my car on the left side of the street.
(Smiles.) No danger of mixing with the police, is there?
MRS. WANTROCKS. Oh, dear, no, Mr. Holten. Mr. Want-
rocks is so influential politically, no one would dare to
object. Won't you sit down?
HOMER. Thank you. (Sits as he motions EVELYN to do
MRS. WANTROCKS. I was in hopes you could meet Mr.
Wantrocks this evening, but he had already made an en-
gagement to look over a new car he is thinking of buying.
JUNIOR (Sits up with interest.) Huh? (Receives a warn*
ing sign from EVELYN J 0. K. (Settles back in the chair.)
HOMER. There are some beautiful cars on the market
MRS. WANTROCKS. Yes ? but so many cheap cars, don't
you think, Mr. Holten? (Sits beside HOMER J And of
CHILDISH PRATTLE 53
course Mr. Wantrocks Isn't interested in those at all. He
mentioned something at dinner this evening about a car
that appeals to him very strongly, and the price, I believe,
was six thousand dollars.
HOMER (Smiles.) Such a car ought to appeal to most
MRS. WANTROCKS. But, you know, Mr. Holten, one must
keep a sensible balance. Mr. Wantrocks thinks that one's
car should be consistent with one's income. I wouldn't be
a bit surprised if he should drive the new car home this
JUNIOR. If he does buy the car, Ma, will that funny little
man call every month like he did when you bought your
vacuum cleaner? ( EVELYN and MRS. WANTROCKS nearly
faint. HOMER suppresses a smile.)
HAROLD who wants lo step out with Elsie
ELSIE , who has lo stay home
CAPTAIN SWARTZ of the detective squad
CONCERNING THE CAST
Elsie Is a pretty girl of eighteen, nicely dressed. Harold
is a rather boastful youth of twenty, nicely 'dressed, and
wearing a fake detective badge. Captain Swartz, a plain
clothes detective, is about thirty. Is polite but stern, and
rather hard-boiled. Has a badge on his vest.
STAGE IN DARKNESS
STAGE LIGHTS ON
(ELSIE end HAROLD are standing near Center, HAROLD
has just arrived and is still holding his hat in his hand.)
HAROLD. Aw, come on, Elsie. It's too big a night to stay
inside. Let's ride, or dance, or sec a show, or well some-
ELSIE, It can't be done, Harold. Daddy said before he
left that he didn't want me to step outside the house tonight.
THERE ARE BADGES AND BADGES 55
HAROLD. But, Elsie, that's all hooey about Scarlip Moran
being in the neighborhood. Where'd you get that news?
ELSIE. Daddy heard about it. He said the police have
a a dragnet out, I guess, and they have him cornered
somewhere in the neighborhood, and there's liable to be
some shooting. That Scarlip is an awfully bad man.
HAROLD. Just because he's listed as public enemy Num-
ber One everybody's scared of him. But I'm telling you
this, Elsie, all those birds are yellow when they meet up
with regular he-rnen As for me huh! I wouldn't be
afraid to meet any of them.
ELSIE. Sit down, Harold. I can't go out, so we might
as well make the best of it. Even if Daddy hadn't forbid-
den me, I wouldn't think of going out. It makes me shud-
dery just to think of meeting Scarlip Moran. Harold, what
if he would try to come in here?
HAROLD. Well, as far as I'm concerned, I wouldn't mind
having him do it. That way I could show him up and prove
to you what I said about them being yeEow. But if your
dad says you can't go out, I'm not the one to say you can.
(Hands his hat to ELSIE and drops onto the davenport.)
But I sure did want to take you for a ride. It's the new
car, Elsie, and what a honey! I can cut circles all around
the old bus with it. It'll make ninety like nobody's busi-
ELSIE (Lays the hat on the table and sits beside him.)
What good is all that speed, Harold? They're arresting
them for doing over fifty.
HAROLD. Not me, they're not. I can make my ninety
any time and get away with It.
HAROLD. Like this. (Throws back his coat, displays a
fake detective badge.)
ELSIE. Harold, where did you get that?
HAROLD. Swiped it off my kid brother.
ELSIE. Is it a real police badge?
HAROLD. No, but it fools 'em. When a cop stops me I
just flash the badge and presto, he salutes, and I'm off.
ELSIE. Some time you'll get In trouble, Harold.
HAROLD. I'm too smart for 'cm. Three times today I
was stopped, and believe it or not, 1 worked this game
successfully each lime.
ELSIE, But It isn't right to do it, is it?
HAROLD. There are a lot of things that people do that
aren't right, but they do them, anyway.
ELSIE. What if . . . ? (Startled.) What was that noise?
HAROLD. I didn't hear anything.
ELSIE. 1 thought 1 heard . , . (Forces laugh.) I must be
nervous thinking of Scaiilp Moran.
HAROLD. Elsie, I wish you would remember that I am
sitting beside you. Of course, I realize that girls don't
have the steel nerves that we men have, but you shouldn't
be nervous when I'm around. If worst comes to worst and
the government eannot do anything with these gangsters
I'll offer my services to the government. Ah! Then give
me a squad of men just a little squad and gangland will
ELSIE, Oh, Harold, you have so much confidence. And
when you do get on the regular force you would have a
real badge, wouldn't you?
HAROLD. A real badge doesn't mean so much. It's the
brave heart that beats beneath the badge that counts. If
Scarlip Moran should enter this room now . . . ("CAPTAIN
SWARTZ steps quietly into the room unseen by the two.)
SWARTZ (In a gruff voice.) Pardon me. ^ELSIE screams.
HAROLD is petrified with fear and afraid to look around,)
ELSIE. What what do you want?
SWARTZ. Don't be alarmed, lady, and pardon my intru-
sion. I am Captain Swartz of the Detective Bureau.
HAROLD (Emits a bi^ sigh of relief. Then stands with
regained confidence.) Good evening, Captain Swartz. Any-
thing I can do for you?
SWARTZ. Yes. You may tell me whose car that is out
front parked without lights.
HAROLD. That is my car, Captain,
SWARTZ. Perhaps you can tell me why you're not obey-
ing the law about lights on a parked car?
ARE BADGES AND BADGES 57
HAROLD. Oh, that's easy. (Pulls back his coat s flashing
SWARTZ. I see. Pardon me for reminding you of the
car. (Aside HAROLD winks at ELSIE.J I'm certainly glad
you flashed the badge, my boy.
HAROLD. I thought you would be.
SWARTZ. Yes, 1 am. We're rounding up every available
officer of the law. We have Scarlip Moran bagged within
this block and expect to jump him any minute. You may
consider yourself deputized.
HAROLD (Aglutsi.) But but . . .
SWARTZ (Sternly.) Come on ? step on it I Get your gun
ready; you'll need it. (Goes towards the exit.) Did you
hear me? Come on! ("HAROLD follows with legs that are
very weak and wobbly.)
> married fifty years
MARY,..,. , .-.their granddaughter
Henry and Anna are In their early seventies. They are
clean-cut, well-preserved elderly folks. Mary is a Iively 3
pretty girl of about twenty years, nicely dressed.
SCENE: Living room.
LIGHTS ON BRIGHT
(Enter MARY, dancing happily between HENRY and
ANNA, whose hands she is holding.)
ANNA. Hold on, Mary, hold on. A little slower. We're
not as young as we used to be.
HENRY. Feel kin da pert myself today, Anna. (Starts to
skip and gets a rheumatic pain in his leg.) Ouch!
ANNA. Henry, will you ever be your age?
MARY (Laughs heartily.) Now, Gran'ma, and Gran'pa, 1
want you both to sit right on that davenport and talk
over old times. This is your golden wedding anniversary
GOLDEN WEDDING ANNIVERSARY 59
and it ought to be a lot of fun going back fifty years.
Reminiscence is good for the soul. Now you just sit down
and play sweethearts again. *
ANNA (Sits.) Mary, you haven't said yet where Jane
and Tom are.
MARY. Gran'ma, your heart is strong, but perhaps I'd
better prepare and forewarn you. Mother and Dad are out
rounding up some of the family for a party In your honor
HENRY. A party, Anna, just like fifty years ago when
we got married. Remember how all the young folks
ANNA. My, my, Henry . . . (Dabs her eyes with a "ker-
chief.) ... we were happy then, weren't we?
HENRY. Not a blame bit happier'n we are now, Anna.
(There is a, bit of sadness in his voice.)
MARY. Here, stop that! We're all trying to make this
a hey-dey of merriment, and you two turn on the water-
works. Now, Gran'pa, you sit right down before I become
- very, very angry.
HENRY. Reckon mebbe I'd better, if that's the case.
(Sits beside ANNA.^
MARY. Now you two just stay put and make love all over
again. I'll be seeing you. (Dances out.)
HENRY. Gosh! Anna,* it seems a mighty long time since
we were that young, doesn't it?
ANNA. Oh, I don't know, Henry. Seems to me like these
fifty years have slid by pretty fast.
HENRY. Reckon you're right, Anna.
ANNA. Do you remember the first day we were married,
Henry, I baked you a black walnut cake?
HENRY. Will I ever forget it!
ANNA. And this is the first .anniversary that I haven't
baked you a black walnut cake.
HENRY. You wouldn't have missed it this time, Anna, if
Mary hadn't insisted that we take it easy.
ANNA. Married fifty years, and every anniversary I
baked you a black walnut cake.
HENRY (Pats her hand.) Anna, I look back on those
black walnut cakes as milestones In my life.
ANNA. And lo Lhink that you nearly married my twin
sister ahead of me.
HENRY, It was a sort of toss-up between you and Sarah,
ANNA. You never did tell me, Henry, why you selected
me instead of Sarah.
HENRY. It always was sort of a foolish thing to talk
about, Anna. I guess it was sort of a combination of love
and superstition that made me marry you.
ANNA. Superstition of what?
HENRY. Well, I'll tell you. One day I was walking down
the street thinking about Anna and Sarah. I saw a cigar
lying in the street- done up in a cellophane wrapper. I
picked it up, and I'll be blamed if it didn't say on the
wrapper, "Hav-anna," so I took Anna. (They both laugh.)
ANNA. And then that night you proposed. (Sighs.) Oh 5
Henry! (Lays her head on his shoulder.)
HENRY (Pats her hand.) After I proposed you sat there
for an hour and never opened your mouth.
ANNA. Yes, I remember.
HENRY. Believe me, Anna, when I say that was the hap-
piest hour of my life, f ANNA leaps to her feet and pounds
him with a sofa pillow.)
UNCLE HUMPHREY very wealthy but philanthropic
BETTY Ms sister
JUNIOR her boy
Humphrey is a rather pudgy, good-natured, middle-aged
man, very well dressed. He has the stamp of wealth all
over him. Betty is about thirty-five, attired In a pretty
house dress. Junior is a common everyday boy of eleven,
nicely dressed, but not overdone.
SCENE: Nicely furnished living room.
STAGE IN TOTAL DARKNESS
STAGE LIGHTS ON BRIGHT
HUMPHREY is comfortably seated. Near him is
UNCLE HUMPHREY. Now, Betty, once more I am going
to appeal to your common sense. I'm wealthy I never did
like the word "rich." I'm very wealthy, comparatively
speaking. Everything seems to have turned my way. I am
something of a King Midas. I just couldn't seem to avoid
the money piling up on me.
BETTY. Please, Humphrey, even though you are my
brother I cannot do as you say. Tom wouldn't approve.
62 ' THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
UNCLE HUMPHREY. I5ut, my clear sister, why shouldn't I
|3ass some of ibis money over Lo you and Tom? I have
much more than I will ever need, tow is a hard working
man, and I should think hoM he willing lo lei; me do
something for him.
BETTY, One man's principles, Hmiiplirey, are not always
understood by another. He would much raiher go on his
own. It's very nice of you though, Humphrey, and Tom
and 1 both appreciate your most kind oiler. I wonder where
Junior is, 1 haven't seen him for two or three hours.
UNCLE HUMPHREY. 1 wouldn't worry about him, Betty.
He'll show up,
BETTY, You said that a moment ago. Do you know
where Junior is?
UNCLE HUMPHREY. Well yes, I do, but I knew if you
knew you'd set your foot down on that, too.
BETTY, Humphrey, where Is Junior?
UNCLE HUMPHREY, Well, 1 guess you'll have to know.
You've turned me clown so many times on this oiler I've
made to you and Tom, that I've decided to beat around the
bush and fix things up for Junior's future.
UNCLE HUMPHREY. That's right. Bui, Belly, it wouldn't
do at all it wouldn't be well to do such a thing without
first teaching him some things during his adolescent years.
BETTY. Go on. I'm sure 1 don't understand.
UNCLE HUMPHREY. First, I started working on his one
weakness. He's been coaxing you to buy him a clog.
BETTY, Yes, 1 know, and heaven help us if he ever
brings a dog into this house,
UNCLE HUMPHREY. Dogs are not so bad. In fact, I
believe every boy should have a dog.
BETTY, 1 must disagree with you on that, Humphrey.
UNCLE HUMPHREY. That's because you never had a clog,
You have never had the opportunity to loarn of their
BETTY. Charms or not, I sincerely hope . . * Oh, well,
Junior's a boy, and if he must have a dog, I suppose he
must. But what about teaching Junior?
FIFTY DOLLARS WORTH OF DOG 63
UNCLE HUMPHREY, Well, Betty, Junior and I had a long
talk this morning about the value of money, and what
could be accomplished with money If handled In the right
way. He's a very bright boy, Betty, and to test his business
ability 1 gave him fifty dollars.
BETTY, You you gave Junior an eleven-year-old boy
fifty dollars? J
UNCLE HUMPHREY. Yes, to buy a dog.
BETTY. My stars! Fifty dollars to buy a dog! Why,
he's liable lo come inarching in here with a half ton Saint
Bernard. How In the world can buying a dog teach him
anything about the value of money?
UNCLE HUMPHREY. In this way, Betty. As I said, I
talked for a long time with Junior, explaining all about
money before I finally gave him the fifty dollars. Then
I said, "Junior, here is fifty dollars. You may use your
own judgment entirely in this matter. If you think you
want a dog that costs fifty dollars, all well and good. If
you want to buy a cheaper dog, and bank the remainder
of the money, all well and good. I want you to use your
own common sense In the matter. After you think it over
you may find something else that will mean more to you
than a dog." So he took the fifty dollars and scooted
out of here.
BETTY (Sighs.) Well, we might as well reconcile our-
selves to boarding a dog. With fifty dollars in his hand,
and a craving In his heart for a dog, what can the answer
be? But 1 clo wish he'd come. (Enter JUNIOR .)
JUNIOR. Hey, Ma!
BETTY. Oh, Junior, where in the world have you been?
JUNIOR. Round looking at dogs. Uncle Humphrey gave
me fifty . , .
BETTY. Yes, I know all about that. He gave yu fifty
dollars for a dog. Where's the dog?
UNCLE HUMPHREY. Yes, Junior, I'm as anxious as your
mother to know what you did.
JUNIOR. Well, you know, Uncle Humphrey, you said I
could spend it all on a dog if I wanted to.
UNCLE HUMPHREY, Yes, 1 did.
JUNIOR. And you said I might find something else that
might mean more lo mo than a dog.
UNCLE HUMPHREY. I die I.
JUNIOR. Well, ! found a peach of a dog for fitly dollars,
but I finally decided that spending fifty dollars on one
measly dog wasn't just right.
BETTY. Oh, Junior, Fin so glad!
JUNIOR. So instead of paying out thai; fifty bucks on
that dog, I went lo another store and bought fifty one-
dollar dogs. They're sending 'em out. f"UNc:u<; HUMIMIIIKY
makes ivry face. BKTTY slumps in cliair. JUNIOR is grin-
BOB ) . .
V brother and sister
Both are in their late teens. Nicely dressed.
SCENE: Living room.
STAGE LIGHTS ON
(Bo lias on hat ready to leave but stands thinking
very seriously. Enter ETTA.J
ETTA. Ah! The statue of "The Thinker" standing up.
BOB (Aroused from a reverie.) Huh?
ETTA. I thought you were in a rush to get away.
BOB. Believe me, I am, Etta, but I've forgotten some-
ETTA. Bob, just what is the matter with your J?or a
week now you've been walking around in a dream. What's
her name? .
BOB. Aw, go jump in the lake! (Shrugs his shoulders.}
Well, I might as well sit down till I think of it. (Removes
his 1M and carefully lays it on the chair. Then starts to
sit on the table.)
ETTA. Bob! You'll tip over the table.
BOB. Oh, yes, that's right. (Places the hat on the table
and sits in the chair.)
66 THREE^MINIJTE BLACKOUTS
ETTA. Bob, you didn't used to be like this. What makes
you so absent-minded now?
BOB, I'm not absent-minded. Everybody makes mistakes.
To err is but human, or something like that,
ETTA, No, you're not absent-minded, (laughs.) What
did you do this morning when you left the house?
BOB. What did I do?
ETTA. You kissed the door arid slammed Mother.
BOB. You're off your nut, Sis* I ...
ETTA. And yesterday when you left for school you
dropped your collar button.
BOB. I distinctly remember that 1 did not drop a collar
ETTA. And then you rolled under the dresser and waited
for the collar button to find you.
BOB. I did not and I can prove it.
BOB. When I got to school I discovered that I had for-
gotten to wear a shirt. (Scratches his head.) There's
something I should do arid I can't go until I think what
it is. I'd give fifty dollars if I could think of it.
ETTA. If you had fifty dollars you'd put it in the bank
and forget which bank it was in. Go through the alphabet
and it may bring it to mind.
BOB. Say, that is a good idea. A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H H
Etta, what comes after H?
ETTA. No, L
BOB. Well, that's what I said you.
ETTA. H-I-J-K . . .
BOB, L-M-N-0-P-Q-R-S-T T . . . what comes after T?
ETTA. Gran-ma conies after her tea . . .
BOB. That's a punk joke, but it reminds me I forgot to
eat any lunch.
ETTA. Grandma conies after her tea . . .
BOB, That isn't the important thing I forgot, (Doorbell
offstage,) Get that, please.
A WELCOME REMINDER 67
ETTA. All right, lazy. (Exits, but immediately enters
with a letter.) It's for you, Bob.
BOB. Thanks. (Rips open the letter^ reads it and waves
arms.) Hooray! Now I remember. Hooray!
ETTA. Remember what?
BOB. Now I remember what I forgot to remember. This
letter, Etta, clears up everything.
ETTA. But what is it?
BOB. Listen. "Dear sir: This letter is to remind you
that you have neglected sending in your final payment on
the memory course you are taking with us."
MOTHER , who knows a few things, too
OWKN , her eighteen-year old son
EON A. her nineteen-year old (laughter
SCENE: Living room. Telephone on a small stand.
STAGE TOTALLY DARK
LIGHTS ON BRIGHT
fGw'KN i5 sprawled lazily In a chair. EDNA is standing
beside his chair.)
EDNA. Please, Owen!
OWEN, No! Absolutely, positively, no! I'm put for the
evening, and if you don't like it, Sis, you can drag that
brand new boy friend of yours off in the moonlight. But
you're not going to budge me.
EDNA. I'm too tired to go places tonight, Owen, and
OWEN. Say, who is this new one?
EDNA, Will you go and let us have the room for the
OWEN. No, I won't.
EDNA. Then I can be as stubborn as you, Owen Weber,
and you'll not find out his name from me.
LEAVE IT TO MOTHER 69
OWEN (Shrugs Ms shoulders.) 0, K., Sis. Makes no
dif to me.
EDNA. Then you won't get out of here for the evening?
OWEN. You heard me. No! As soon as I get a good
book from my room I'm going to take roots and be per-
. EDNA. Belter get a book on how to repair Dad's car
that you smashed up this afternoon.
OWEN. I didn't smash Dad's car. It was that big palooka,
Red Allen, that banged into me, and believe me, Sis, If
the cops hadn't come up when they did I'd have smeared
that bird all over the road,
EDNA. Red Allen?
OWEN. Yes, Red Allen! I'd have walloped him so
hard . . .
EDNA. Why, Owen, Red Allen could beat you up before
you could say "Jack Rabbit."
OWEN (Stands.) Huh! Another hero-worshipper, aren't
you? Just because he was lucky enough to make a coupla
touchdowns you think he can . . . (Laughs.) Why, Sis, if I
run into that guy there's going to be one more patient in
the hospital. (Enter MOTHER while he is talking.)
MOTHER. Owen, are you starting another world war?
OWEN. Mother, one haymaker on that matinee idol's
kisser and the war would be over before it started. (Throws
back his shoulders and struts from the room.)
MOTHER (As she and EDNA laugh.) Just big boy stuff,
EDNA. Mother, can you make Owen stay in his room
this evening? He insists on staying right here, and I can't
entertain Jack Warren with that pestering brother of mine
MOTHER. Did you ask him to vacate?
EDNA. I asked him; I begged him; I pleaded with him,
but he is so stubborn.
MOTHER. Leave it to Mother. (Goes to the phone.)
M-8-7-3-2, please . . . Hello, Clara. Will you call me back
in about one-half minute? . . . Oh, just for fun. I'll tell you
later. Goodbye. (Hangs up the receiver.) Now 5 Edna,
watch big brother Owen get out of this room without much
hesitation or argument.
EDNA. I don't understand, Mother. (Enter OWEN with
a book. He jlops into the chair and is immediately ab-
sorbed in the book. Telephone rings. MOTHER goes to the
MOTHER. Hello . . . Oh, yes . . . Why, yes, indeed, I will
Goodbye. (Hangs up the receiver.)
OwKN (Showing no interest,) For me?
MOTHER. For Edna.
EDNA. What was it, Mother?
MOTHER. It was your new boy friend, Edna. He'll be
a little late getting here. He's taking his mother somewhere
in the car. So you can read a little longer, Owen.
OWEN. A little longer? I'm here for the evening.
MOTHER. Well, of course, it doesn't matter to me if It's
all right with Mr. Allen.
OWEN, Huh? Who?
MOTHER. Why, you know Red Allen, don't you? He'll
be here soon . . .
OWEN (Tosses the book on. the table and stands.) Gee!
I clean forgot I had to meet Joe. See you later. (Quickly
exits. MOTHER mid EDNA laugh heartily.)
GEORGE BURNS waiting, waiting, waiting
JOHN MANDERS also waiting
Lois CRAMM who saves the day
George and John are two business men. Lois is a pretty
girl of about twenty, nicely dressed for street.
* * *
SCENE: Some resemblance to an office,
fGEORGE is pacing back and forth, his face haggard,
registering extreme agitation. JOHN is seated, disconso-
GEORGE. Why doesn't she come? Oh, why doesn't she
JOHN, For heaven's sake, George, stop it! I say, stop
it! You're driving me insane! (Loudly.) Stop it!
GEORGE. But where is she? (Looks at his watch.) Al-
ready it is half an hour past the appointed time. ^ (Stops
and glares at JOHN.J Man, have you no emotion in your
makeup? Have you no feeling of . . . ?
72 ^THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
JOHN. George, I realize our plight as much as you, but
1 am trying to at least lake it calmly. You gain nothing
by infernally pacing back and forth like a lion.
GEORGE. If you were suffering as I am . .
JOHN. But 1 am suffering. Oh, how I'm suffering! Per-
haps in another minute she will . . .
GEORGE. John, what if she has deserted us gone back
on us- doublecrossed . . .?
JOHN. Stop, George Burns! You cannot honestly say
that about her. She has always proved faithful, and you
have no right to distrust her now. Perhaps circumstances
beyond her control . . .
GEORGE (Looks at his watch.) Thirty-five minutes late!
Another five minutes of this torture and my nerves will
snap like violin strings.
JOHN. Calm yourself, George, calm yourself. You are
doing yourself harm by ...
GEORGE. John Manders, are you senseless to pain? Is
there nothing that will upset you? Your never-ending
patience is a hideous thing! Oh, why doesn't she come?
Why doesn't she come?
JOHN. I'm as anxious as you to have her come, but why
carry on when it does no good. (Phone rings.)
GEORGE (Wildly.) It's Miss Cramm! Get it, John, get
it ... No! Wait! It may be ... Perhaps she's in trouble.
Let me answer it ! (To the phone.) Hello ! Hello ! (Returns
the receiver.) Wrong number. (Paces.)
JOHN. Will you stop this racing back and forth? You
go and I'll remain here.
GEORGE. Never, John Manders, never! I wouldn't desert
you at a time like this.
JOHN. Go, George, go.
^GEORGE. Never. When you go, I go. Not before. I
know I realize you are suffering as ranch as I. I will try
to be quiet, John. I'll sit down. (Sits, Then leaps to his
feet and listens.) Did you hear that? Listen! Feet in the
hall! Listen! Her feet! They're coming this way! (Enter
A NEAR TRAGEDY 73
Lois. Am I late?
GEORGE (Exploding.) Late? Are you late? Forty min-
utes late! Tomorrow you be here at twelve to look after
the office. Come on, John, let's go eat.
Tit for Tat
SMITH and JONES
Smith is about thirty, rather nicely dressed. He carries
a shotgun, Jones is about 45, is dressed hi overalls, blue
flannel shirt, floppy felt hat. Also carries a shotgun.
* # #
SCENE: Woods drop.
f JONES is standing with a gun leaning against Mm
while he lights his pipe. Enter SMITH.,)
SMITH (Breezily.) Hello!
JONES (Puffing on his pipe.) Howdy, stranger! How's
SMITH. Fine. Hunting?
JONES. Well, you can't say I'm pickin' cocoanuts.
SMITH. Hardly. Seems to be a line place for hunting
around here, doesn't it?
SMITH. Have any luck?
JONES. Plenty of it.
SMITH. Mind telling me?
JONES. Well, sonny, I shot fourteen squirrels this morn-
TITFOR TAT 75
h* besides eight rabbits an' two pheasants. This afternoon
I plunked eight quail and a wild turkey.
SMITH. Say, that's what I'd call shooting.
JONES. Kinda thought so myself. But take it all in all,
they're none better with a gun that I ever met up with
SMITH. What was that list again?
JONES. Fourteen squirrels, eight rabbits, two pheasants,
eight quails and a wild turkey. By the way, Mr. ...
JONES. Jones is my name. What's yours?
SMITH. Smith. And, by the way, do you know who I am?
JONES. Can't say I do.
SMITH. Well, I happen to be the game warden.
JONES (Laughs.) Well, Mr. Smith, do you know who I
JONES. Well, I happen to be the biggest liar in the state.
^ SMITH (Laughs.) Perhaps I'd better lay claim to that
title myself. You see, I was just sounding you out I'm
not a game warden,
JONES, You're not?
SMITH. No, I should say not. But it happens I did a lot
of shooting back here a ways, and not being open season,
I got a bit leary.
JONES. What did you get?
SMITH. Twelve quail and eight squirrels.
JONES (Laughs.) Gosh, you sure had me scared for a bit
when you said you was the game warden. (Sobers.) Say,
sonny, it doesn't happen that you are the game warden,
SMITH (Laughs.) If I had been I wouldn't have dared
shoot twelve quail and eight squirrels. No, I'm not the
JONES (Displaying the star inside of his overall bibj
Well, I am.
HXGGINS a farmer
LARRY his boy
JONES a motorist
Higgins wears overalls, flannel shirt, and an old felt
hat. He carries a shotgun. Larry, a boy of fourteen, wears
overalls, an old coat and a cap. Jones is dressed in a
SCENE: Any scene that gives the impression of a rural
STAGE LIGHTS ON
(Enter HIGGINS and LARRY, Right, HIGGINS carrying a
shotgun. At Center they stop, looking off Left.)
HIGGINS (Whistling for a dog and then calling to off
Left.) Bruno, come back here!
LARRY. He ran out on the highway, Pa.
HIGGINS. I see he did, Larry, an' a feller ain't got much
chance the way them dura fool city fellers drive on that
road. (Calls.) Bruno! Come back here. That blame fool
THE PASSING OF BRUNO 77
dogTl get killed out there sure'n shootin'. He's gettin's too
consaraed old to dodge them cars. Look out, Bruno!
(Sound of squeaking brakes off Left.)
LARRY. Look, Pa! That man hit Mm! Ran over him,
HIGGINS. Gosh! Well, one thing, he's man enough to
stop an' git out'n his car.
LARRY. He's coming over here, Pa. (Enter JONES, Left.)
JONES, I suppose you saw me run over the dog?
HIGGINS. Yep, we seen you.
JONES. I really couldn't avoid striking him. I was going
pretty iast, and the dog . . .
HIGGINS. Bruno ain't as spry as he used to be. Used to
be the fastest crittur that ever chased a rabbit.
JONES. Of course I'm willing to pay any damages. It was
your dog, wasn't it?
HIGGINS, Yep, we raised him from a pup.
JONES. I'm certainly sorry it happened. Looks like he
might have been a pretty good dog in his day.
HIGGINS. None better, stranger.
LARRY. Weil, he's gone now, Pa.
HIGGINS. Yes, Larry, a dog-gone good dog gone.
JONES (Takes a pocketbook from his pocket.) If you
had teen wanting to sell him, what would you have asked
HIGGINS. Gosh, I dunno, Never thought nothin* about
JONES.- Although it was really not my fault that he was
struck, I'm perfectly willing to pay. He came from behind
that clump of bushes and hobbled directly in the path of
the car. I had no chance whatever of dodging him.
HIGGINS. I seen how it happened, stranger, an' I ain't
a-blamin' you none a-tali
JONES. Well, now, let me see. "Would you be satisfied if
I gave you . . . Well, would twenty dollars be satisfactory
78 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
HIGGINS. Yes, siree, I'd be mighty satisfied If you gimme
JONES (Hands bills to HIGGINS.; Well, there you are,
twenty dollars. I'm indeed sorry about the affair.
HIGGINS. Thanks, stranger, thanks. Come on, Larry,
we've got to go home an 5 git a shovel to bury Bruno. So
long, stranger. (Exits Right.)
JONES. So long. (To LARRY.J And, sonny, here s a little
present for you. A whole dollar.
LARKY. Gee, thanks, Mister.
JONES. And don't feel bad about the dog. Perhaps your
father will get you another one. But I am sorry that your
hunting trip was cut short.
LARRY. Oh, we weren't going hunting.
LARRY. Nope. Me and Pa was going over to the marsh
to shoot Bruno.
DICK RAYMOND who gets an earful
Gene and Grace are seventeen and eighteen years old
respectively. Both the neatly attired in pretty house dresses.
Dick is about eighteen, nice looking, and well-dressed. He
carries a brief case.
SCENE: Living room. Telephone conveniently located.
(GENE is on, lolling in a chair. Looks off Left.)
GENE (To offstage,) For heaven's sake, Grace, get away
from that window, will you?
GRACE. I said, tut-tut.
GENE. You'll get squinty-eyed trying to see that new
family next door. Come away before they catch you spying
on them. (Enter GRACE, Left.)
GRACE. But Mother said they were such nice looking
people, and looked to be very well to do,
80 . THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
GENE. Mother says that about everybody. You're plain
GRACE. I am not. Fm just Interested. Love thy neigh-
bors as thyself . . .
GENE. But I don't think much of myself. (Telephone
rings.) Get that, Grace.
GRACE (To the phone.) Hello. Oh, Mother, where are
you? ... What? . . . The tax assessor? . . . He's coming
here? ... We should what, Mother? . . . Tell him we're
very poor? ... But ... Oh, is that the way they do it?
... All right, Mother. 'Bye! (Hangs up receiver.)
GENE. What was it, Grace?
GRACE. Mother is across the street at Mrs. Thornton's,
and she says the tax assessor is calling at the houses on this
street assessing household goods.
GENE. Well, what about it?
GRACE. She wanted to warn us not to uphold the value
of our belongings. The more they're assessed by this man
the more taxes Daddy will have to pay on them.
GENE. And then what?
GRACE. Don't you see, Gene? She wants us to under-
value everything and give the assessor the impression that
we are quite poor.
GENE. We might carry everything up into the attic and
let him see for himself how poor we are.
GRACE. There's no time for that now. Mother said he
would be here most any minute. You're better at lying than
I, so I'll beat it and let you do the talking.
GENE. You'll do nothing of the kind. While I'm doing
the lying you'll be peeking through the curtain at the
house next door. You're going to stay right here with me.
GRACE (Sighs.) Oh, all right. (Sits.) Now for instance,
we'll tell that assessor this rug cost a dollar and a half,
and . . .
GENE. Oh, you have to stay within reason. We'll say
this rug cost well, forty dollars instead of two hundred
fifty. And the radio well, we bought that second-hand
for for . . .
BEING POOR IS NO DISGRACE 81
GENE. Who said I could lie better than you? The radio
cost eleven dollars and It isn't half paid for yet. And the
chairs . . . (Doorbell rings off Right.)
GRACE. Well, there he is. Can't I go peek out of the
GENE. You go peek out of the door. If he has a bunch
of papers under his arm you might as well let him in. If
you don't he'll come back later, and maybe at an inoppor-
GRACE. 0. K. (Exits Right, GENE quickly snatches
articles from the table and hides them behind the daven-
port or the chair. Enter GRACE, Right, followed by DICK,
who is carrying his brief case. GRACE motions to the
chair.) Please sit down and take a good look.
DICK. Thank you. (Sits.) I ...
GENE. Yes, we know. Now in the first place, there is no
use wasting time. We're as poor as Job's turkey, or the
proverbial church mouse, This rug is getting very old and
frayed and isn't worth much. When new it cost only
on ly h ow much did I say, Grace?
GRACE. Eleven dollars, and isn't half paid for yet.
GENE. No, that was the radio.
DICK. But it isn't necessary to tell me that, you know,
You see . * .
GENE. But it is necessary. The depression just about
cleaned us out. Dad is in debt up to his ears, and what we
have is heavily covered by by I think it's a chattel
mortgage. Of course you'll want to see the other rooms
In the house, but I might as well tell you the new electric
refrigerator isn't paid for and Daddy says they'll have to
come and take it back. The new gas range isn't paid for,
DICK (Takes some papers from the case.) As I was
going to say , . .
GRACE. Let him write that down, Gene.
GENE. But I wanted to tell him about Dad. Daddy's job
Is liable to go pop any day. His salary has been cut so
82 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
many times . . . Well, you'd be alarmed if you really knew
how we live. Cornmeal mush three times a day.
GRACE. But of course, you tax assessors don't realize . . .
DICK. Why, I'm not a tax assessor.
DICK. Fin Dick Raymond from next door. I'm being
transferred to your high school and I wanted some infor-
mation about it. (Girls are "sunk".)
_ igirl friends
PROFESSOR VAN DE WERT a caller
Gertrude and Delores are girls about seventeen. Typical
high school girls. Professor Van de Wert is a middle-aged
man, nicely dressed in clothes that characterize a learned
man. Is very dignified.
SCENE: Living room setting.
STAGE TOTALLY DARK
(GERTRUDE is on reading a magazine. Enter DELORES.)
GERTRUDE (Startled.) Oh! Oh, Belores, you frightened
DELORES. May I come in?
GERTRUDE. You're in*
DELORES. May I sit down?
GERTRUDE (Laughs.) You may, Delores, (DELORES sits.)
Where are your books? I thought you and I were to do
our home work together this evening?
DELORES, That's all off, Gertrude. Fm going over to
84 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
Ruth's. She's going to show me how to make a new kind
of salad. I dropped in to see if you would like to go along.
GERTRUDE. I'd love to, Delores, but well, I can't go
until Professor Van de Wert calls.
DELORES. Professor Van de What?
GERTRUDE. Not Van de What Van de Wert? He's
calling to see Mother about forming a new literary club
of some kind. Mother was called away for about half an
hour, and I have orders to remain here until she returns
just in case the professor arrives.
DELORES. The-n you will go with me when your mother
GERTRUDE. Surely. Salad beats home work, doesn't it?
DELORES. Is this professor .young or old, and if he is
young, is he nice looking?
GERTRUDE. Mother didn't say. The fact is, she has never
met him herself. So I don't know whether he is eccentric
and absent-minded, or ... Oh, yes, Mother did say that she
understood that he was very, very deaf.
DELORES. How will you talk to him?
GERTRUDE. I can make motions. (Bell rings offstage.)
That must be the professor now. Excuse me. (She exits.
Enter GERTRUDE, followed by PROFESSOR VAN DE WERT.
He bows silently to DELORES. GERTRUDE takes his hat and
coat and lays them on the chair.)
GERTRUDE (To PROFESSOR.) Mother will be back di-
rectly. (Motions to the chair and PROFESSOR sits without
DELORES (To GERTRUDE.) He must be awfully deal
GERTRUDE. Terribly so ! I hardly know how to entertain
DELORES. He appears as if he didn't expect to be en-
GERTRUDE (As she sits beside Delores J Delores, don't
look directly at him now, but notice what a funny little
shaped nose he has.
DELORES. I did notice it. Don't you look, either, but
notice how he combs his hair. It looks like a clothes brush.
GERTRUDE. Maybe he can read our lips. Most deaf
people can read lips, you know. Talk sort of sideways.
Like this. (Talks from the side of her mouth.) Does he
look like a real professor to you?
DELORES. My stars, no. He looks more like an old
GERTRUDE. I can't imagine Mother ever picking him out
to start a literary club.
DELORES. Of course you can never tell. Looks are so
deceiving. You often find delicious apples beneath a homely
GERTRUDE. I wonder if he would be more talkative if he
were not so deaf.
PROFESSOR. You girls must have been misinformed. It is
my brother who is deaf. (Girls are extremely embarrassed.)
He's Not So Dumb
MRS. LONG Junior's mother
J" NI O R the boy
iVsT? ]F*Tcipr it
iviii. ribii \ a ca l] er
Mrs. Long is a pretty woman in neat house dress. She is
about thirty-five years old. Junior is a typical American
boy about ten years old. Mr. Fish is a very wishy-washy
man of about thirty. Immaculately attired.
* * *
SCENE: None required.
STAGE IS DARK
STAGE IS LIGHTED
(MRS. LONG is seated. She may be reading. Enter
JUNIOR. Ma, can I go play ball?
MOTHER. Not now, Junior, Mr. Fish is calling shortly
and I'd like to have you here to help entertain him.
JUNIOR. What d'you want me to do, stand on my head
MOTHER. Hardly that, Junior.
JUNIOR. Then what?
HE'S NOT SO DUMB 87
MOTHER. Well, Junior, perhaps I should not be saying
such things, but Mr. Fish is such an uninteresting sort of
person that I need your help to well, to make things
easier for me.
JUNIOR. What's he want here? Dad isn't here.
MOTHER. Well, you see, Junior, Mr. Fish is forming a
literary club and he wants me to become a member.
JUNIOR. Literary club! Plop-plop! Why doesn't he get
up a baseball club or something like that?
MOTHER (Laughs.) When once you've seen Mr. Fish
you will understand that he isn't that type of man at all.
He's literary, but nothing else, and possesses a very high
opinion of himself.
JUNIOR. Are you joining?
MOTHER. No, Junior, your father is not in favor of it.
JUNIOR, Maybe Dad thinks you belong to too many clubs
MOTHER. It isn't that. Your father doesn't like Mr.
Fish. He thinks he's too "wishy-washy."
JUNIOR. Say, Ma.
MOTHER, Well, what is it?
JUNIOR. Is he the guy Dad was talking about last night
at the table?
MOTHER. Yes, I believe he did say some things not so
complimentary about Mr. Fish. (Doorbell or knock off
Right.) That must be he now.
JUNIOR. Last call, Ma. Can I go play 'ball?
MOTHER. Last answer, Junior. You may not. And,
Junior, because 111 not let you play ball I don't want you
cutting any funny didos while Mr. Fish is here.
JUNIOR. 0. K., Ma.
MOTHER. And don't forget. (Exits Right. JUNIOR jams
his hands deep into his pockets and plainly registers his
displeasure. Enter MOTHER, followed by MR. FiSH.j Mr,
Fish, this is my boy, Harold Junior.
MR. FISH (Holds owt hand daintily, which JUNIOR re-
luctantly accepts,) What a sweet little boy!
JUNIOR (Jerks hand away.) Thank you. And what a
sweet little man!
88 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
MOTHER (Reprimandilj.) Junior! Please have a chair,
MR. FISH. Thank you, Mrs. Long. (Sits.)
JUNIOR. Ma, may I be excused?
MOTHER. You may, but do not leave the house.
JUNIOR. O, K. (Exits Left.)
MR. FISH. I presume, Mrs. Long, you have thought over
what I said a few days ago relative to the formation of a
MOTHER. Well, yes, in a way I have.
MR. FISH, I can assure you, Mrs, Long, that you will
benefit greatly by becoming a member, especially since 1
will conduct the meetings and personally review the books.
My wide experience along this line . . . (Enter JUNIOR,
Left, with small paper bag. He goes directly to MR. FISH.,}
JUNIOR (Holds bag near MR. FISH'S face.) What's in the
MR. FISH (Looks in the bag.) Why, my child, those are
JUNIOR. Gosh, Ma, he does know.
MOTHER. Junior, what do you mean?
JUNIOR. Dad said Mr. Fish didn't know beans when
the bag is open.
SPUD a newsboy
R ED a beginner
SMITH a customer
CHARACTERS AND DRESS
Spud is a typical newsboy. Makeshift clothes. Cap on
the side of his head. Has a paper bag hanging from his
shoulder. Red, a freckle-faced, red-headed boy somewhat
smaller than Spud is also attired in a soiled, misfit suit and
cap. Also has paper bag. Smith is a well-dressed business
SCENE: None required.
(RED, a newspaper in his hand, is standing silently
looking to offstage as though he were afraid to call his
wares. Enter SPUD.)
SPUD. How yuh comin', Red?
RED. N. G., Spud. Ain't sold nothin ? .
SPUD. Nothin'? Gripes! Yuh couldn't do any worse if
yuh were tryin 3 to sell battleships. What d'yuh think you
are, a statue?
90 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
RED. Well, nobody wants a paper.
SPUD. Course, they don't. Yuh got to make 'em think
they wants It. You ain't yeliin' loud 9 nongh. (Points to
offstage.) See that bird leanin 5 against that buildin' over
SPUD. Did] a see him before I points?
SPUD. Course, yuh didn't. He wasn't makin' no noise.
If he'd been yellin' you'd o' knowed he was there, wouldn't
RED. 1 git yuh,, Spud.
SPUD. Folks ain't payin' no attention to yuh less you're
makin' a lot o' noise. Yell 'em out! Tell 'em what's in de
paper, an' if there's nothin' in de paper tell 'em there is
anyway. Listen, Red. I'm turnin' this corner over to you,
but cripes, if yuh ain't intendin' to do no business yuh
can't keep it, see? I'm gettin' a chain o' yuh guys on the
job just like a lot o' chain stores, an' if yuh don't make
good, out yuh go. See? Now yell.
RED (Weakly, as he holds out paper and looks to off-
stage.) Paper! Paper! Buy a paper!
SPUD. Naw, that ain't right. Listen to me, Red, an 9
learn somethin'. (Yelk raucously.) Paper! Evenin' paper!
All about the mummumuguma! All . . .
RED. About what, Spud?
SPUD. That's just part o* de noise. Red. Folks don't
know what you're yellin 9 an' they buys a paper to find out.
See? Now try it ag'in.
RED (A bit louder J Paper! Evenin* paper! All about
the mummumumu . . . Spud, what was it all about?
SPUD. Gripes, Red! It don't make no difrence what It's
all about. Just yell something an' yell loud. The louder
yuh yell the less folks know what you're yellin 5 an' the
more they'll buy. See?
RED. I get yuh, Spud. (Yells.) Paper! Evenin' paper!
Mummumumum! Whoop-eel Rah! Rah! Rah!
SPUD. Fer the love o ? Mike! You ain't seem' a football
game. You're sellin' papers.
^ SOME OF BEING YOUNG 91
RED. Yuh said to make a lot o' noise, didn* yuii?
SPUD. But yuh got to make the right kind o 9 noise. You'll
be poundin' on a washtub next. Yell your head off, but
yell about somethin'. Git 'em interested in de paper an'
they'll buy 'em. See? Now hop to it. I got 'o beat it. An'
if yuh can't sell 'em I'll git somebody what kin, see?
RED. O. K., Spud.
SPUD. Here comes a swell-lookin* Bozo. Git him. So
long. ( Runs off. Enter SMITH.;
RED. Paper! Evenin' paper! Bigges' fraud in de world!
One hundred an' ten victims! A hundred an' ten victims!
SMITH. Here, boy.
RED. Yes, sir. (Hands him a paper and receives a coin.)
SMITH (Quickly scans the front of the paper.) Here,
boy ! There's nothing here about a fraud.
RED (Walking away, yelling.) Big fraud! One hundred
an' eleven victims! A hundred an' eleven victims!
WILLIE who wants to know things
FATHER who knows things
MOTHER who isn't so sure
Willie is about ten years old, and a common everyday
boy. Father and Mother are about thirty-five.
SCENE: None required.
(FATHER is seated comfortably reading. MOTHER may
be reading or sewing.)
FATHER. I see here in the paper that foreign exchange
is causing more worry on Wall Street.
MOTHER. I never read those things because I don't un-
FATHER. You should,, my dear. Fve explained them so
often to you, but you don't seem to get what I mean. Now,
for instance, if our dollar is worth fifty cents in this coun-
try, and the English pound is worth five dollars, then the
French franc is changed so that its value is balanced with
the average set by the dollar and the pound. In other
words, if ... (Enter WILLIE with books and papers.)
WILLIE. Was it Balboa who discovered the Mississippi
River, Mother, or was it Lord Baltimore? f FATHER quickly
JUST ASK FATHER 93
buries his face in his paper so he will not have to answer.)
MOTHER. I don't remember, Willie. 1 think your father
can tell you. He knows history like a book. (Smiles mis-
FATHER. What was the question, my boy?
WILLIE. Was it Balboa or Lord Baltimore who discov-
ered the Mississippi River?
FATHER. My dear boy, I'm surprised. It was Balboa.
WILLIE. That's funny. You see, the teacher wanted us
to ask our parents about it.
FATHER. It was Balboa who discovered the Mississippi,
Now run along.
WILLIE. But my history says it was De Soto.
FATHER. Oh, well, of course, historians differ on that,
MOTHER. When you get older, Willie, and want to know
about high finance and foreign exchange your father can
help you a lot. (Laughs.)
FATHER. My dear, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit,
and not at all suitable to the ears of adolescent youth. Psy-
chology teaches us that the adolescent mind is plastic. I
have studied psychology and I ...
WILLIE. We had that word in class today and nobody
could spell it. How do you spell it, Daddy?
FATHER. Psychology? Why, s-y-p I mean s-y-e-h
What's the matter with me? I can't seem to say what is
on my mind. Psychology. P-s-y ... *
FATHER. Now, dear, that wasn't a nice thing to do. He
asked me to spell it, You took it right off the end of my
WILLIE. Can you spell it now, Daddy?
FATHER. There is no use repeating it since your mother
spelled it correctly. Now run along. I want to read.
("MOTHER bursts out laughing.) What is so funny, if I
MOTHER. Your spelling sometimes amuses me.
FATHER. My dear, I've been away from school for some
94 THREE-MINUTE BLACKOUTS
time. When I was younger nobody had anything on me
when it came to spelling.
MOTHER. If I remember correctly your spelling wm
quite original. At the bottom of the first love letter you
ever wrote me you spelled "sincerely" with two 1's.
FATHER. Bah! Just a slip of the pen, (Resumes Ms
WILLIE. There's one thing more I'd like to ask before
I go to bed.
MOTHER. Yes, dear?
WILLIE. It's about natural philosophy.
MOTHER. Laying all joking aside, Willie, this is one
thing your father does understand.
FATHER (Looking up quickly.) What was that?
WILLIE. I would like someone to explain about natural
FATHER. Willie, I will explain briefly. Ahem! In the
first place, natural philosophy is the science of cause and
reason. Do you understand?
WILLIE. Oh, yes. Go on.
FATHER. For instance, you see an apple fall downward
from a tree. Do you know why it falls downward and not
WILLIE. That's gravity.
FATHER. You are right. Now, another instance. You
see the steam coming out of the spout of a kettle but you
do not know why or for what reason it does come out.
WILLIE. The heck I don't! The reason the steam comes
out of the kettle is so that mother can open your letters
without you knowing it.